Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson will not be freed from jail after losing parole bid
Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson has lost his bid to be freed from jail following a public parole hearing.
The 70-year-old, who is one of the UK’s longest-serving prisoners, appeared before a panel of parole judges at the beginning of March for a three-day hearing on whether he should remain behind bars.
In a document detailing the decision published on Thursday, the Parole Board said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress that Mr Salvador has made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Salvador was suitable for release. Nor did the panel recommend to the Secretary of State that he should be transferred to an open prison.”
Responding to the decision, Bronson’s son George Bamby said: “I would have loved Charlie to have been released but completely respect the decision of the Parole Board.”
Members of the press and public watched the proceedings – taking place in HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes – on a live stream from the Royal Courts of Justice in central London. This made him the second inmate in UK legal history to have his case heard in public after rules were changed last year in a bid to remove the secrecy around the process.
Dubbed one of Britain’s most violent offenders, Bronson – whose real name is Michael Peterson and changed his surname to Salvador in 2014 after the artist Salvador Dali – was jailed for armed robbery in 1974.
He has spent most of the following 48 years behind bars - for a string of thefts, firearms and violent offences, including 11 hostage takings - apart from two brief periods of freedom where he reoffended. Victims included governors, doctors, staff and, on one occasion, his own solicitor.
Bronson - who has previously been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder - was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of four years in 2000 for taking a prison teacher at HMP Hull hostage for 44 hours. Since then, the Parole Board has repeatedly refused to direct his release.
This was his eighth bid for parole after violent attacks on prison staff and inmates has led to his original seven-year sentence being extended multiple times.
At the hearing, Bronson appeared on camera sat opposite three parole judges - who have not been publicly named - wearing a black suit, white shirt and dark glasses.
When asked if he wished to give evidence, Bronson - who could be heard frequently swearing and sighing loudly - replied: “Oh yes, certainly.”
Over the course of the three days, there were many bizarre revelations and expletives from the prisoner, including his likening his experience in front of the Parole Board to being on BBC programme The Apprentice.
As the judges were told that there are 500 people on a mailing list who write to Bronson in jail, the prisoner interjected: “Bloody hell, I can’t reply to all of them.”
He also said in his opening statement: “It’s no secret I have had more porridge than Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and I’m sick of it. I’ve had enough of it, I want to go home.”
The panel heard how he is locked in his cell for 23 hours a day, and is allowed to leave for just one hour for exercise and other activities due to prison staff shortages. He is in a unit of eight inmates, and has time out of his cell with three others, one of whom he does not like and avoids.
A psychologist told the panel Bronson has post-traumatic stress disorder after facing some “brutal and unacceptable” treatment behind bars. He has been held in solitary confinement for much of his time in jail.
During the hearing he was described as holding “anti-authoritarian views” and being “suspicious” of the motives of others, as well as having a “romanticised” view of violent incidents in the past.
None of the prison and probation officials who gave evidence at the parole hearing said he was ready to be released.