Charles Bronson 'danced and whistled The Great Escape theme before attacking prison officer,' court hears

Hatty Collier
In court: Charles Bronson (pictured here in 2001): NICK RAZZELL/REX/Shutterstock

Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson whistled the theme to The Great Escape film moments before launching himself at a prison governor, a court has heard.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court were told on Monday how the 65-year-old had wanted to attack Mark Docherty for months, and blamed him for guests not being able to take pictures during his wedding.

Prosecutor Carl Fitch said Bronson, a serving prisoner at Frankland Prison in County Durham, had to be restrained by police officers during the attack in Wakefield Prison on January 25.

In his opening speech, Mr Fitch explained how the defendant, who is appearing in court under the name Charles Salvador, was meeting with Mr Docherty in order to discuss his "welfare and engagement" within the prison system.

Jurors were told how, moments before entering the meeting at around 2pm, Bronson had stood outside the adjudication room and started "dancing with his toes and began whistling the theme to The Great Escape".

Once the door to the room opened, the prisoner launched himself at the governor, using his arm to knock him off his chair before jumping on top of him, the prosecutor said.

The court heard how, once Mr Docherty was on the floor, Bronson shouted: "You can f*** with me but you can never f*** with my mother."

Mr Fitch added Bronson had said: "I will bite your f****** nose off and I will gouge your eyes out."

The prosecutor said that, once the prisoner had been restrained, he told officers he had wanted to attack the governor since November 2017 after he "disrespected his wife".

Jurors were told how Bronson had married the actress Paula Williamson during a ceremony at Wakefield Prison in November last year, with guests being told they were not allowed to bring in electronic devices or attempt to take pictures.

But prison staff were allowed to take photos which were to be distributed to Bronson and his new wife, the court heard.

Mr Fitch said: "The prison would never allow these photographs to be taken outside the prison, as they feared that Ms Williamson would give them to the media if they did.

"The Crown says that it is for that reason, among others, that Mr Salvador had a grudge against Mr Docherty, who he held responsible for the withholding of these photographs."

Prior to hearing the prosecution opening, jurors were told how Bronson, who was wearing yellow and green prison attire and round sunglasses, had asked to be allowed wear a suit, but was not able to change into one.

The court session on Monday afternoon was briefly halted as members of the press were brought into the court room, at which point the prisoner said: "Shall we have a sing-song while we wait?"

Telling jurors of the defendant's intention to represent himself in the trial, Judge Tom Bayliss asked them to bear in mind and forgive his "blunt manner of speaking".

During the jury selection process, Bronson, who jurors were told has served over 40 years in jail, jokingly said "there's some decent prison officers", when asked if prison staff should be allowed to sit.

He denies attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and the trial, which is expected to conclude later this week, continues.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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