Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson says he’ll be free by the time he’s 70
Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson says he believes he’ll be free again before he’s 70.
The 67-year-old, who has spent the vast majority of the past 45 years behind bars, was given the green light last week to challenge a ban on Parole Board hearings being held in public.
Bronson, now going by the name Charles Salvador after the painter Salvador Dali, wants his next hearing to be in the ‘full public glare’ as he mounts a fresh bid for freedom.
Writing from the high-security estate at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes the ‘born again artist’ told Metro.co.uk it had been a ‘magical’ result. Once freed, he said he intends to ‘smash his way to the top of the art world and live a nice, simple, happy, honest life’.
His lawyers claim a ‘blanket ban’ on public hearings is unlawful and a senior judge agreed Bronson has an ‘arguable case’ which should be given a full hearing.
If the challenge is successful it would force ministers to change the regime and provide prisoners with the right to apply for a public parole hearing.
But Bronson says he would overhaul the system even further by placing the decision-making into the hands of the public.
He told Metro: ‘I’ve been saying for years all lifers should be entitled to a public parole hearing. I would go even further – let a jury decide.
‘Let the real people see the injustices of this vindictive system. I am now 18 years over my tariff. It’s become a complete farce.
‘So I am well pleased I’ve won the first hurdle.’
He added: ‘I predict I will be freed before I’m 70.
‘Then I can smash my way to the top of the art world and live a nice, simple, happy, honest life. A beautiful ending to a mad, crazy journey.’
Dubbed Britain’s most violent prisoner, Bronson has spent much of his adult life in custody either in solitary confinement or specialist units.
He gained notoriety after he was first locked up in 1974 and his sentence kept being increased following attacks on guards and fellow inmates.
After a brief stint of freedom in the 1980s he was jailed again for plotting another armed raid and was later given a discretionary life term in 2000 for taking a prison teacher at HMP Hull hostage for 44 hours.
The Parole Board has reviewed his case six times since the end of that minimum tariff in 2003, most recently refusing to direct his release following a hearing in November 2017.
In July 2019, it directed an oral hearing in Bronson’s case, which is the subject of his High Court claim. That has since been ‘put on ice’ until the legal challenge is resolved.
His solicitor Dean Kingham suggested his progression within the system is being delayed.
He told Metro that so long as he remains in ‘a prison within a prison and category A the prospect of the Parole Board releasing him are slim’.
Mr Kingham said the only recommendation open to the board would be a transfer to an open prison – something he regards as having a similarly ‘slim’ chance.
He added: ‘Offending Behaviour Programmes now focus on old me versus new me.
‘The old Mr Bronson was a very violent man. The new Mr Salvador has demonstrated on a number of difficult situations that he has the skills to deal with high risk situations without resorting to violence.’
The solicitor explained that the ‘key decisions’ are being taken ‘from an office and by a team who do not meet with him’, rather than the prison staff he interacts with day to day.
He added that a public Parole Board hearing would be ‘an important step as it adds scrutiny’ to the Ministry of Justice’s approach.
The Parole Board said they are unable to comment on individual and ongoing cases. The Ministry of Justice also declined to comment on the case, adding that any legal arguments would be heard in a legal forum.
Bronson was last in court in November 2018, when he was cleared of attempting to seriously harm a prison governor.
He was said to have lunged at Mark Docherty as he entered a room for a welfare meeting at HMP Wakefield, landing on top of Mr Docherty and screaming ‘I will bite your f nose off and gouge your eyes out’ before prison officers intervened.
But Bronson, who represented himself at that trial, claimed he only intended to give Mr Docherty a ‘gentle bear hug’ and whisper in his ear, but tripped, or was tripped by someone, and fell.
He told the jury he had been a ‘very nasty man’ in the past as he described how in prison he had previously held 11 hostages in nine different sieges – including governors, doctors, staff and, on one occasion, his own solicitor.