Why has Charles Bronson spent nearly half a century in jail?
Why has Charles Bronson spent nearly half a century in jail? How a burglary conviction at the age of 21 marked the beginning of a life in and out of prison – much of it in solitary confinement
- READ MORE: Bronson pleads with parole panel to give permission to release him
Charles Bronson – who began his bid for freedom at a parole hearing yesterday – has been behind bars for almost 50 years after a string of convictions both in and out of prison.
The man dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous prisoner’ indulged in petty crime from a young age and spent time in juvenile detention, but began his first spell in prison in 1974 aged 22 when he was jailed for seven years for armed robbery.
The years that followed began what would become a familiar pattern – with Bronson constantly having years added onto his original sentence due to his uncontrollable violence behind bars.
While in Walton Gaol – now HMP Liverpool – he randomly attacked two prisoners and was sent to Hull in 1975.
In the next few years, Bronson continued to attack other inmates, adding months to his sentence and being switched between prisons.
Charles Bronson at his parole hearing yesterday – the second in the UK to be held in public
The man dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous prisoner’ indulged in petty crime from a young age
At HMP Wandsworth, he tried to poison another prisoner, leading to him being sent to Parkhurst psychiatric facility where he befriended the infamous Kray twins.
He would go on to describe the pair, who ruled the East End of London with their gang during the 1950s and 1960s, as ‘the best two guys I’ve ever met’.
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.
Again, he continued to attack other prisoners, threaten police officers, took people hostage and even attempted suicide as he was moved from prison to prison.
In 1982, he performed a rooftop protest at Broadmoor, removing tiles from the top of the building. He took part in a number of protests over the years, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
He was eventually released in 1987, and began boxing in the East End of London, changing his name to Charles Bronson after the actor.
After just 69 days of freedom, he was once again jailed for armed robbery for seven years in 1988.
In 1989, he created a spear out of a broken bottle and a broom handle and ran riot in the nude.
Three years later, he was released – this time lasting 53 days outside jail. He was arrested for conspiracy to rob.
In 1993, he took a librarian hostage and asked police to get him a cup of tea, a helicopter, and an inflatable doll.
Three years later, he took two Iraqi prisoners hostage in Belmarsh, demanding a plane, sub-machine guns and ice cream from police negotiators before releasing them.
He was handed a life sentence in 1999 for taking Phil Danielson hostage and trashing the prison in a 44-hour long siege.
In 2001, he married Fatema Saira Rehman, and converted to Islam, demanding to be known as Charles Ali Ahmed. After they divorced four years later, he renounced the religion.
In 2014, he changed his name to Charles Salvador, after Salvador Dali – his favourite artist.
Bronson met a new penpal, the soap actress Paula Williamson, in 2016, and Bronson later proposed to her in 2017 by serenading her a version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way, from a prison pay phone.
Wearing a black suit, white shirt and dark glasses, he told the panel: ‘I’ve had more porridge than Goldilocks and the three bears. I’ve had enough of it’
Bronson has repeatedly had years added onto his sentences due to violence behind bars. He’s seen here leaving the High Court in London on May 3, 2001
Bronson has been called Britain’s most dangerous prisoner
They married in November 2017, and walked down the aisle to the Death March. They had their marriage annulled in June 2019.
She was found dead at her home in Sneyd Green in July that year in her bedroom after taking drink and drugs.
Bronson says he ‘greased up with Lurpak’ before a jail ‘rumble’
In total, Bronson has taken hostages in ten prison sieges and attacked at least 20 prison officers.
At his parole hearing yesterday, he insisted he is now a ‘man of peace’ and asked to be freed for the sake of his 95-year-old mother, who he called ‘the duchess’.
Wearing a black suit, white shirt and dark glasses, he told the panel: ‘I’ve had more porridge than Goldilocks and the three bears. I’ve had enough of it.
‘I’ve been naughty. I’ve been an activist. I’ve been up on prison roofs and I loved every one. I was protesting against the brutality.
‘I’ve had 11 hostages. Am I sorry? Maybe. Would I do it again? Definitely not.’
He described having an epiphany and becoming an artist behind bars when an ex-forces prison officer approached him whilst he was in solitary confinement in HMP Wakefield and gave him ‘a pile of paper some crayons and some pencils and said: ‘Why don’t you do something positive and creative?”
Brinson memorably described the notorious Kray twins as ‘the best two guys I’ve ever met’
In total, Bronson has taken hostages in ten prison sieges and attacked at least 20 prison officers
‘I’m now a born again artist and that’s down to him,’ he said, telling the panel that he wants to be released so he can ‘go home and make a good honest living with my art’.
He told the panel that his pictures sell for £2,000 each now and every week he creates a piece for charities, including Macmillan nurses, which is auctioned off.
‘I’ve raised thousands and thousands of pounds for charities,’ he said.
He told the panel he has not had an adjudication in prison since September 2018 when he exposed his penis to his then wife during a visit.
But he insisted he had forsaken violence, telling the panel that he has ‘learned how to switch off with deep breathing’ whilst listening to birdsong in his cell, rather than resorting to violence in stressful situations.
‘I’m ready now. I’m a chilled out man. I’ll be going out with a bus pass. I know that if I do anything again I’ll die in prison and I’ll never get out,’ he added.
He insists he has now forsaken violence, telling the panel that he has ‘learned how to switch off with deep breathing’
‘I’m ready now. I’m a chilled out man. I’ll be going out with a bus pass. I know that if I do anything again I’ll die in prison and I’ll never get out,’ he added. He’s pictured in 2004
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