Ian Watkins and Ronnie Biggs assessed by press

Two very different criminals take up many column inches in Thursday's papers.

Ian Watkins, wearing a T-shirt reading: "Mega lolz"

The life of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs - which ended on Wednesday - fascinates the press to the end, while there is only disgust at the actions of Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, who's been jailed for child sex offences.

The Sun quotes a "sickening" phone call during which the rocker described his actions as "mega lolz" - shorthand for "laughing out loud" - and said he didn't know why people were so "freaked out" by his 13 offences, including the attempted rape of a baby.

However, the Daily Mail focuses on two women he manipulated into allowing him to abuse their children by asking: "How could any mother be so evil?"

Entrepreneur Shazia Awan, reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, described the latter as a "shocking headline", saying the paper should have been focusing on Watkins. However, political blogger Susie Boniface said: "It's mainly women who buy the Mail, so they're talking to their demographic," before adding that - judging by the front page - readers could be "forgiven for thinking the pop star hadn't done very much at all".

line break
Little Biggs Man
Composite image featuring three photographs of Ronnie Biggs through the years

The Daily Mail is unhappy that the BBC led news bulletins on the death of Ronnie Biggs, who was jailed for his part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, only to escape from Wandsworth prison in 1965. "Why do we deify people who prey on decent citizens?" asks Ruth Dudley Edwards, who argues that "soundbites from... admirers" served only to reinforce the "Biggs's own loveable rogue version of himself".

Coupon coups

Sixteen-year-old Jordon Cox is in the headlines for getting what the Daily Telegraph describes as 99.9% off his supermarket shop, thanks to having scoured websites and magazines for coupons.

It says he eventually bought £572 worth of food for just 4p, quoting him as saying he was surrounded by a crowd and "felt like a celebrity". He immediately donated the food to the charity Doorstep, which gives food to disadvantaged families.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail declares Emma Mumford a "coupon queen", for having covered the cost of Christmas - including food and presents - for less than £100.

She reportedly saved £540.22 through a combination of using coupons, spotting bargains and writing to manufacturers praising their products.

David Robson, in the Daily Telegraph, wonders whether the fact Biggs's death coincided with the BBC's dramatised screening of The Great Train Robbery was "a conspiracy, his last act of self-publicity, or a piece of good fortune for all concerned". Public and press, says Robson, were complicit in giving Biggs the lifelong notoriety that was his meal ticket.

As though to demonstrate, the Daily Star calls him a "legendary villain", while the Sun prints a list of quotes titled "Biggs in his own words". It gets Colin McKenzie - the reporter who "tracked him down" to his Rio bolthole - to relive the hunt, and recounts the story of the paper's team who "brought Biggs home" to be arrested.

Anna Pukas, in the Daily Express, describes Biggs as a "second rate crook who just got lucky", although colleague Leo McKinstry says - like it or not - the "audacious heist captured the public imagination".

In the Guardian, Duncan Campbell suggests that the robbers' 30-year sentences "played a major part in creating the myths around them", as much as the botched robbery. Had they been given the normal terms of the time, 10-to-12-years, he suggests, they may have made fewer attempts to escape, Biggs may never have become a fugitive and as a result not led so many bulletins.

In its editorial, the Daily Mirror mocks the way Biggs's bravado faded when he returned, "tail between his legs, to use an NHS he hadn't paid for". It continues: "Victims of crime pay twice - first when they are robbed, assaulted or worse and again when they pick up the jail tab for offenders.

"Biggs was not glamorous. He was a violent criminal. Full stop."

line break
Foodbank account
A foodbank worker serves tea

The Daily Mirror reserves further fury for Conservative MPs, who it says "mocked the plight of hungry families turning to foodbanks" during a Commons debate. "Tory backbenchers sniggered and hooted as Labour MP Fiona McTaggart told of shocking scenes at her local Tesco in Slough, Berks, as people battled over cut-price fruit and veg," it reports.

And it turns its ire on Iain Duncan Smith for leaving the debate after an hour, circling his departing figure in a front-page photograph headlined: "The rat runs." Its editorial brands the work and pensions secretary a "nonentity" who spends his days "making life harder for working people".

However, in the Times, Tim Montgomerie defends Mr Duncan Smith from left-wing critics of his attempts to streamline welfare benefits.

He says: "The overall goal of this Tory-led coalition isn't to end the post-1945 State but to modernise it. To keep it alive... Getting many more people into work is the only way we can save the welfare system for the people who will always need and deserve society's help."

line break
Royal Who-ness?

A photograph of a police officer checking a crib sheet marked "Royal Families" to help him identify guests at the Queen's annual Christmas get-together is used on the front of the Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Trouble brewing?

Teapot featuring the Queen's portrait

There's news to rock the United Kingdom to its very foundations in the Times. "Britain's love of tea is in decline," it reports, quoting figures published in The Grocer, "as more people turn to cappuccinos rather than cuppas."

Sales by volume dropped by 6.1% in the year to mid-October, the report says, noting the competition from capsule coffee machines "such as those advertised by George Clooney".

The Daily Mail imagines the bobby's thought process: "Nope, I don't recognise that face. Or that one. But then again, that little old lady with the handbag and crown definitely seems familiar..."

But the car's the star for many papers, picturing Viscount Linley arriving in a classic Fiat 500. Even so, "no-one can upstage Prince George", according to the Telegraph. He arrived in a child seat in the back of a vehicle driven by his bespectacled father, the Duke of Cambridge, the duchess at his side. They were reportedly 15 minutes late, leading chief reporter Gordon Rayner to suggest the five-month-old prince may have needed a last-minute nappy change.

The Times, on the other hand, is more interested in the Prince of Wales agreeing to appear in a "selfie" - the increasingly common mobile phone self-portrait - when asked by a "cheeky schoolboy" during a visit to a Hertfordshire church.

"There is, as far as one can tell, no record of other members of the Royal Family being snapped in selfies, although it has doubtless happened," suggests writer Valentine Low. "It is hard to imagine that Prince Harry has not taken the occasional selfie in his time: some of them with clothes on."

line break
Olympic legacies?
A protester wearing a Vladimir Putin mask in Munich

The Guardian describes Russian President Vladimir Putin pulling off an "Olympic masterstroke" by backing an amnesty law and thus ensuring its passing. It's expected to result in the release from prison of two members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, and the return home of Greenpeace's "Arctic 30" who were detained after attempting to board an oil rig.

The "classic PR masterstroke", says the Guardian, "soothes international opinion, while keeping those who pose a real threat to his regime firmly behind bars". It adds that the move is likely to avoid any boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Mary Dejevsky, in the Independent, says it's not hard to understand Mr Putin being attracted to the amnesty. "It is an arbitrary act that can be used to demonstrate both the power and the benevolence of a leader," she says. However, she adds that its aim wasn't solely to ease tensions around the Sochi Games but also to relieve political pressure at home.

Meanwhile, London 2012's Olympic legacy is "a nation of young couch potatoes", according to the Times. It reports a Health Survey for England which suggests fewer children took enough exercise last year than in 2008, with no improvement in time spent exercising among adults.

line break
Making people click

Independent: Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'

Daily Mail: 'We'd like to knock him around his prison cell': Parents of paedophile Ian Watkins speak of their anger after son is jailed for 35 years

Daily Mirror: Dylan Sprouse owns his naked selfie problem 'like Beyonce would want him to' and makes it a t-shirt

Financial Times: NSA fallout sees Brazil snub Boeing as Saab wins jet deal

The Times: Storm lashing causes chaos around UK

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.