'Prison is full of fairies': Charles Bronson's most bizarre comments in court
In a highly unusual first day of his public parole hearing, Bronson cursed, discussed his favourite hostage, and said he probably deserved about 35 years of the almost 50 he had served.
One of Britain's longest-serving prisoners, Charles Bronson, told a public appeal hearing on Monday he is "almost an angel now" compared to his old self and is "just a normal geezer wanting to get on with his life".
The 70-year-old convict, who has spent almost 50 years behind bars, has committed a series of violent offences but insists he is a reformed character who deserves to be freed.
In a bizarre first day of his public parole hearing, Bronson repeatedly swore, described a former prison warden he held hostage as an arsehole, and said he probably deserved about 35 years of the almost 50 he had served. He also described decades of life behind bars - often in solitary confinement.
Here's everything Bronson said on the first day of his hearing...
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Bronson on prison life
Bronson told the hearing that during his time in prison he had slept in “cages” and “boxes”, and spent “40 years of my life in solitary”.
"Don’t think I’m wearing these glasses for sinister reasons. My eyes are blown away with the light" he said, explaining that his eyes had not recovered from periods in solitary confinement.
Describing the conditions of his current 'home' of HMP Woodhill, the 70-year-old said they were more like a hospital than a prison for some inmates.
“I don’t want my cell to be a furnished bedsit… Unfortunately prison today is full of fairies,” he told the panel, adding: "I’ve got a telly in my cell, I can’t even believe it."
As well as a TV, the panel heard Bronson has regular phone contact with his friends and son, and receives letters from up to 500 people on his mailing list.
"Bloody hell, I can’t reply to all of them," Bronson interjected, as the panel was told he did not respond to some of them.
Bronson also said he had been "betting for 50 years" while in prison, winning £1,500 last year.
He described prisons as being run by "namby-pamby people now," later telling the hearing: “I lost the plot in prison”, adding: “The only thing I knew was violence.”
Indeed, the hearing was told that Bronson was prone to violent outbursts, also being verbally abusive to staff on more than one occasion.
On August 19 last year when Bronson was told that the deputy governor was visiting his cell, he said: “What, do you want me to put my party hat on?” and told them to leave.
Protests and hostages
Bronson has taken a number of people hostage during his time behind bars, and referred to his favourite hostage as the art teacher he held for three days in 2014.
Bronson said he would like to meet with Phil Danielson, whom he told at the time: "You’ve been my best hostage, you’re the only one who hasn’t s*** himself."
During the time he held Daniels, Bronson tied a skipping rope around his neck and walked him along the prison corridor.
“I was a horrible person and I couldn’t stop taking hostages," Bronson told the panel. "I went through a phase ... I was battling against the system … it was my way of getting back.
“There’s nothing better than wrapping a governor up like a Christmas turkey.”
Among his nine hostage victims was prison governor Adrian Wallace. Asked about Wallace's post traumatic stress disorder, Bronson replied: "That was 30 years ago and I’ve moved on from that long ago".
“Governor (Adrian) Wallace was an arsehole, is an arsehole and will die an arsehole,” he added.
Bronson expressed remorse for taking art teacher Phil Danielson hostage, but not Wallace, or three Iraqi inmates he held at Belmarsh.
The inmate also said he didn't feel bad about the number of prison protests he staged, stating: “I enjoyed every f****** one of them.” Nine of the protests involved barricading himself onto prison rooftops, causing an estimated £5 million of damage.
“Why would I be ashamed? I’m fighting the penal system that has done humiliating things to me for decades,” he said. "If I was a dog I’d have had the RSPCA on my side.”
Bronson also told the panel, which has a 738-page dossier of material about his case, that he felt he had deserved some of the time he spent behind bars.
He said: “Out of the 50 years I’ve been in prison, I have probably deserved a good 35 years of it … but I have been naughty. Not ‘naughty, naughty’, but naughty.”
Read more: Charles Bronson: Britain's most notorious prisoner tells parole hearing he 'couldn't stop taking hostages' (Sky News, 5-min read)
Bronson’s remarkable outbursts
During the fist day of his public panel hearing, Bronson made a number of bizarre statements and comments, also making little effort to refrain from cursing.
As the hearing opened, Bronson was given 15 minutes to give an opening statement - but replied: "I could fill 15 hours."
He then proceeded to tell the panel: "First of all, 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," also dismissing the dossier about him that was handed to the panel as "crap, absolute rubbish".
Shortly after the hearing began, Bronson sipped on a carton of orange juice, then standing up to ask for a tissue and telling the panel: "I haven’t pissed myself".
The inmate proceeded to mutter "f****** hell" when the panel was told submissions on behalf of justice secretary Dominic Raab had been delayed and said: “we will be here all f****** day, won’t we?” amid pauses in proceedings.
When the hearing was told that Bronson had tried to get someone outside prison to place a bet for him, he told the panel: “We all love a bet, guv, come on.”
Asked about violence that happened several years ago, Bronson replied: “I love a rumble. What man doesn’t?”
Describing one incident, in which the parole review was told he stripped naked and “greased up”, he said: “I took half a tub of Lurpak with me, stripped off and had the rumble of my life. It was f****** brilliant.”
Read more: ‘More porridge than Goldilocks’: Charles Bronson’s parole review full of bizarre revelations and expletives (The Independent, 4-min read)
Bronson on being reformed
Bronson has insisted he is a changed man, commenting "If some muppet wants to fight me or cause me problems I will handle it in a different way".
He told the parole hearing that he acts like a "gentleman" now and intends to live in the country and focus on his art if he is released.
“Give a man a break. We could be sitting around this table until the cow jumps over the moon talking the same old crap," he said on Monday. “I’m just a normal geezer wanting to get on with his life.”
He added that he is “almost an angel now” compared with how he used to be. “I have not walked on grass for over 30 years and I dream of walking on grass,” he said.
However, he added: "Sometimes people push, push, push, take the piss, it’s blatant piss-taking, and some people need a slap, it’s as simple as that."
Telling the panel about his decision to change his name to Charles Salvador in 2014 (after changing his name to Charles Bronson from Michael Gordon Peterson at the suggestion of a promoter during his boxing days), Bronson said the new name made him feel different.
“Bronson was a nasty bastard,” he said. “I wasn’t a nice person and I didn’t like him. Salvador is a man of peace. I feel peaceful.”
Speaking about the various crimes he committed, Bronson said: “Am I sorry? Maybe. Would I do it again? Definitely not.”
He added: “How much longer have I got to go? I’m ready now, I’m a chilled-out man, I feel comfortable in myself. I handle situations 100 times better than I used to. I’m no longer angry.
“I am terrified of the consequences of my actions because I know if I do anything serious ever again I will die in prison.”
Read more: Charles Bronson on prison, his violent past and his wishes for the future (PA, 4-min read)
Bronson on his art
Bronson, who in 2014 changed his name to Charles Salvador in homage to surrealist artist Dali, described himself as a "born-again artist" and his paintings have been sold to raise thousands for various charities.
A prison worker told the parole hearing: “He kind of loses himself in his artwork and finds that he doesn’t ruminate as much as he used to overnight.”
Bronson said he had been inspired to take up art after a prison officer, Mick O’Hagan, told him: "You carry on the way you’re going, Charlie, you will never get out.”
“Today I’m an artist, a born-again artist, and that’s down to him. He didn’t have to do what he did, he done it because he believed in me," Bronson said.
He later described a life after prison in which he made a living off his art - which he said was a dream of his 95-year-old mother, whom he referred to as "my old duchess".
“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 said.
“If you’ve got any heart, any compassion, give it to my mum and make an old lady’s dream come true.”
Read more: Charles Bronson tells parole hearing ‘I just want to go out and do my art’ (The Guardian, 4-min read)