Photo: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.
A bid for freedom by Charles Bronson, Britain’s most notorious prisoner, has failed. Bronson, 70, has been in prison for almost 50 years. He told a public parole hearing earlier this month that he’d had “more porridge [prison time] than Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, but was informed on Thursday that his application for parole has been rejected.
During his 48 years in prison he has staged nine rooftop protests, attacked prisoners and prison staff and taken 11 people hostage, including a prison governor, his own solicitor and a prison art teacher he held for 43 hours at knifepoint. As a result he has had his stay in prison repeatedly extended and spent most of his time in solitary confinement. He claims to be non-violent and has rebranded himself as an outsider artist while in jail. But, following a public hearing which took place in March, the Parole Board has opted to deny Bronson’s release. He was originally jailed in 1974 for armed robbery. Now being held at Woodhill Prison near Milton Keynes, Bronson, a bare-knuckle boxer, was briefly freed in 1987 and 1992, but both times he was locked up for committing robberies, months after being released.With his trademark small round dark glasses and Victorian-style moustache, Bronson said it was his 95-year-old mother’s wish to see him released. “You people have got the power to let me out, that’s my mum’s last dream on this planet, to see her son outside, doing well, making an honest living with my art, as you know I’m anti-crime,” he told the panel. “If you’ve got any heart, any compassion, give it to my mum and make an old lady’s dream come true.”In a voicenote sent to Sky News before the hearing, he said he had not murdered or raped anyone and did not know why he was still in jail.
At the hearing, an independent psychologist said Bronson had PTSD from his time in prison and will need support if he is released. He has been in jail for so long he never used a cashpoint. “His use of violence towards staff members has been almost a matter of survival,” said the psychologist. “He's got that real level of dislike for authority figures. I don’t think he has that for members of the public.”She advised that for now Bronson should be kept locked up, but under less strict conditions, with a view to eventually moving him to an open prison.Born Michael Gordon Peterson, he has changed his name three times, most famously to Charles Bronson in 1987. He became Charles Ali Ahmed after briefly converting to Islam in 2001 and in 2014 changed it to Charles Salvador, due to his love for the artist Salvador Dali and his wish to rid himself of his previous personas.In a Channel 4 documentary, which also features his son George, Bronson said: “I’ve got a horrible, violent, nasty past, but I've never killed anybody and I’ve never hurt a woman. I’m focused, I’m settled, I can actually smell and taste freedom like I’ve never, ever done in my life. I’m now anti-crime and anti-violence. So why the fuck am I still in prison?”