Charles Bronson's model ex-girlfriend has attended his parole hearing
Charles Bronson’s former FHM model ex-girlfriend has attended his parole hearing and supports him as the notorious prisoner bids for release
- READ MORE: Why has Charles Bronson spent nearly half a century behind bars?
A former FHM model who struck up a ‘romance’ with Charles Bronson is standing by Britain’s ‘most violent prisoner’ during his bid for freedom this week.
Gemma Fernandez, who first wrote to Bronson after seeing Tom Hardy play him in a 2008 film about his life, has attended this week’s public parole hearings where he asked to be released after 48 years behind bars.
They conducted their ‘relationship’ through letters and video calls, named ‘purple visits’, and was even allowed a visit to meet him face to face at HMP Woodhill after Covid restrictions eased in 2021.
But they split just months later, with Bronson writing from prison: ‘I’m no longer with Gemma. We split. Romance and prison don’t mix. It’s two different worlds. I believe in freeing ones you love.’
Gemma Fernandez, who first wrote to Bronson after seeing Tom Hardy play him in a 2008 film about his life, has attended this week’s public parole hearings
The inmate appearing via video link from HMP Woodhill during his hearing on Monday
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Despite this she has remained an enthusiastic supporter, mingling with crowds outside the Royal Courts of Justice with a t-shirt bearing the words, ‘Free Charles Salvador’.
She told the Mirror: ‘I’ve been advised not really to say anything. I just think he’s done really well and it’s time that he got out.
‘I’m really supportive of him.’
Bronson, who has changed his name to Salvador, was first locked up for armed robbery in 1974, but during his time inside he has taken hostages in 10 prison sieges, attacked at least 20 prison officers and caused £500,000 in damage in rooftop protests.
But at parole hearings this week he insisted he is now a ‘man of peace’, as he asked to be freed for the sake of his 95-year-old mother, who he called ‘the duchess’.
The pair split several years ago, with Bronson writing from prison: ‘I’m no longer with Gemma. We split. Romance and prison don’t mix. It’s two different worlds’
Despite this she has remained an enthusiastic supporter, mingling with crowds outside the Royal Courts of Justice with a t-shirt bearing the words, ‘Free Charles Salvador’
The inmate will have another hearing this week before being informed of his fate in the coming weeks.
Long criminal history of ‘Britain’s most violent prisoner’
1974: Bronson’s first conviction aged 22. He was jailed for seven years for robbery, aggravated burglary, assault with intent to rob and possession of a firearm.
He was convicted for numerous assaults behind bars in 1975, 1978 and 1985, leading to his sentence being extended.
1987: He was released from prison at the age of 34.
1988: After 69 days he was back in prison, sentenced for seven years for robbery at a jewellers’ shop.
1992: He was released but weeks later was jailed for eight years for intent to rob.
He has been behind bars since then for violent offences committed while in custody.
1994: He was given seven years for false imprisonment and blackmail, then in 1997 he took a deputy prison governor, staff and three inmates hostage for which he received five years.
1999: He took an art teacher hostage for three days and was given a life sentence with a minimum term of three years which expired in 2003.
2014: He was further sentenced to three years for assaulting a prison governor.
Ms Fernandez, who is in her 30’s, previously opened up about her visit to see ‘gentleman’ Bronson on Steve Wraith’s true crime YouTube channel.
She said: ‘It was his first visit in two years, it was a big, big day. It was lovely to see him. I gave him a massive hug. He hasn’t had a hug in two years, so it was really, really nice. He was all excited, he took my jacket off, he’s a gentleman.
‘He was supposed to sit in a chair six feet away but apparently he walked into the room before I got there and said, ‘No way, I’m not having that’ and dragged a chair from across the room. It was amazing. I thought it was quite a comfortable, cosy setting.’
The former model claimed she’s never been to a prison before visiting Bronson.
It was after watching Tom Hardy play him in 2008 that she decided to get in contact with him.
She added: ‘Years ago I wanted to write to him after seeing the film and I never really did.
‘But with the lockdown happening and everyone suffering with their mental health I thought, ”He’s been banged up for 46 years, I need to write’.
‘He’s a reformed character. He cares about people. He’s such a nice bloke.’
The former model also opened up about him saving her ‘two mince pies from the canteen’ alongside a flask of hot water and two teabags as he eagerly awaited her arrival.
Ms Fernandez said: ‘Charlie is in a different unit so I was separated from everyone else and I was escorted to another building.
‘I saw him, and I was relieved to see him. It was my first time visiting a prison and he said, ”Gem, it’s like an airport except instead of a plane at the end, I’ll be there”.
‘He was standing in the window with his moustache and glasses eagerly waiting so it was really good.’
Ms Fernandez, who is in her 30’s, previously opened up about her visit to see ‘gentleman’ Bronson on Steve Wraith’s true crime YouTube channel
Ms Fernandez has described Bronson as a ‘reformed character’
‘That was such energy in the room and we were both really excited – there was a big build-up to it.
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‘The door opened and I gave him a massive hug straight away. It was really nice. He had a low table and two chairs set out.
‘On the table, he had a flask of hot water with two teabags and the two mince pies he’d saved from the canteen. It was amazing seeing him – it was really surreal. We’d had video calls and had talked all the time, so it was surreal.’
‘We were really lucky to get that visit. He’s been overwhelmed by the support and the messages. Time’s precious, he’s got a life – he deserves to live life as a free man.
‘He genuinely just wants to have fish and chips on the beach. There’s a lot of people supporting Charlie and it shows.’
Ms Fernandez is now managing the petition website called Free Charlie Official and she said ‘every day she reads him emails’ that she gets in support of Bronson and those campaigning for his release.
Bronson being played by Tom Hardy in a 2008 film
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