Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Laughing All The Way To The Crematorium: The Story of Charles Bronson

“I fear no one, violence just makes me madder and stronger". (Bronson)

The Hits

· Born Michael Gordon Peterson in 1952 to a respectable middle-class family in Aberystwyth,West Wales, he would eventually move on to Liverpool and then Luton where he would go on to earn a living as a circus strongman.

· He changed his name to that of Charles Bronson after a bare knuckle fight promoter said it would be a bigger pull than his real name.

· Was originally jailed for seven years for armed robbery in 1974 at the age of 19, and has had a series of sentences added to his original term over the years for attacking inmates and prison staff along with over a dozen hostage taking incidents.

· To date he's has served over 36 years in prison and solitary confinement, spending just 121 days as a free man since his initial imprisonment.

· He was released in October 1988 and spent 68 days as a free man before being arrested for robbery. He also tasted freedom in November 1992 for 53 days, before returning to jail for conspiracy to rob.

· He remains a Category A prisoner in Wakefield high-security Prison where he is still in solitary confinement

· Weighing 210lbs and standing five feet ten and a half inches tall, Bronson is renowned for his strength, having bent metal cell doors with his bare hands. His daily training regime includes up to 3,000 push-ups a day. Bronson holds six world records for feats of strength and fitness and well as an unofficial record for the most prison rooftop protests by any UK inmate.

· In 2000 he was jailed for life after being convicted of holding a teacher hostage for nearly two days during a jail siege.

· In recent years, Bronson has become a published author and cartoonist. Among his eleven books, is a health and fitness guide in which he shares some of the secrets behind his legendary muscle power. Profits raised from his work go to children's animal charities.

· First married in December 1970 to Irene, he has one son named Michael.In 2001, Bronson married again, this time to Saira Rehman, who began writing to him after seeing his picture in a newspaper.Following his wedding, Bronson briefly converted to Islam and took the name Charles Ali Ahmed. He later renounced the religion and the name when the pair divorced.

The Hostage Situations

  • Bronson took hostages and staged a 47-hour rooftop protest at Broadmoor asylum in 1983, causing £750,000 of damage.

  • In 1994, while holding a guard hostage at Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes, he demanded an inflatable doll, a helicopter and a cup of tea as ransom. Two months later, he held deputy governor Adrian Wallace hostage for five hours at Hull prison, injuring him so badly he was off work for five weeks.

  • In 1998, Bronson took two Iraqi hijackers and another inmate hostage at Belmarsh Prison in London. He insisted his hostages address him as "General" and told negotiators he would eat one of his victims quickly unless his demands were met. At one stage, Bronson demanded one of the Iraqis hit him "very hard" over the head with a metal tray. When the hostage refused, Bronson slashed his own shoulder six times with a razor blade. He later told staff: "I'm going to start snapping necks – I'm the number-one hostage taker." He demanded a plane to take him to Cuba, two Uzi sub-machine guns, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, and an axe. In court, he said he was "as guilty as Adolf Hitler", adding "I was on a mission of madness, but now I'm on a mission of peace and all I want to do now is go home and have a pint with my son." Another seven years were added to his sentence.

  • In 1999 he took Phil Danielson, a civilian education officer hostage at Hull prison. He can be seen in CCTV footage singing the song "Yellow Submarine", walking around with a makeshift spear (after having caused havoc inside the prison) and causing the wing to be locked up for over 40 hours.

  • In 2007, two prison staff members at Full Sutton high security prison in the East Riding of Yorkshire were involved in a "control and restraint incident", in an attempt to prevent another hostage situation, during which Bronson (who now needs glasses) had his glasses broken. Bronson received £200 compensation for his broken glasses. which he claimed were made of "pre-war gold" and given to him by Lord Longford.

The Film

Premiering at the Sundance film festival in 2009 the film stars Tom Hardy (RocknRolla, Layer Cake) as the title character Charles Bronson. It was directed by Nicholas Rending Refn at a cost of roughly $230,000 CAN. The film found much critical praise, but due to a limited release did not find a wide audience.

The Art

While in prison, Bronson developed skills as an artist. His drawings are often sold in charity auctions, and Bronson claims that he provides these sketches to charities in order to pay back society for his crimes.

The Man

Most recent photo of Bronson with his brother Mark, mother Eira, and friend Dee Morris. Released April 6 2010

A letter sent to dated Feb 12 2010

After eight weeks here [HMP Woodhill] I am still being denied progress!! They refuse to allow me to mix with the other six inmates on here, so how can I ever move on and porve myself when they wont allow me the opportunity to show that I’ve changed? Even the prison psychologist refuses to see me in the same room but see murderers and rapists regularly, so why not Charlie Bronson? The man who never harmed a woman or a child in 7 years of living!

They can’t even justify their pathetic action or their vindictive ways, which are being directed straight from prison H/Q.

Apart from this my life and regime is sweet! I get extra food, I’ve a TV, a nice cosy cell and open visits!! PLUS I’m bang into my solitary fitness.

So who’s the real winner? Me? Or them muppetts in Prison H/Q? They’re dreamers; spineless people; never achieved anything in heir boring miserable lives! They’re jealous of my art. My books, my movie, my fitness, my charity work, my poetry. They try all they can to bury me. They stop visits. They take off phone numbers. They play games with my mail. They isolate me. They recently stopped my art from leaving the jail!

What is their problem?

What are they afraid of?

What about my progress? My rehabilitation programme?

Believe me, it’s all logged by my legal team. A judge will decide who is the victim. All I’ve gotta do is keep it cool and conform and tell the truth. “A liar will ALWAYS come unstuck!” and this system is run on a lie.

Oh and a big thanks for all the Xmas cards. Next year I could be FREE!!!!!! And it will be down to my supporters.

Keep up the fight.

Foot on the gas.

Let’s roll it on.

I’ll see you on the dark side,

Bring a torch

Max Respect,

Charlie Bronson