Who is Charles Bronson? Notorious prisoner granted parole

He was sentenced to an initial seven years’ prison, and later locked up for life (PA)
He was sentenced to an initial seven years’ prison, and later locked up for life (PA)

Charles Bronson has been granted a public parole board hearing, taking place next year. He is said to be “Britain’s most notorious prisoner” and the “most violent prisoner in Britain”.

Bronson - who changed his surname to Salvador in 2014, after artist Salvador Dali - is serving a life term at HMP Woodhill in Buckinghamshire.

In a document setting out the decision for the public hearing to take place, parole board chairwoman Caroline Corby said: “I have concluded that a public hearing is in the interests of justice in the case of Mr Salvador. I therefore grant the application for the hearing to be held in public.”

Here’s what we know about Charles Bronson’s life and crimes.

Who is Charles Bronson?

Charles Bronson was born in Luton, in 1952, and was one of three sons of Eira and Joe Peterson. His aunt, Eileen Parry, referred to him as a “lovely lad”.

“He was obviously bright and always good with children. He was gentle and mild-mannered, never a bully; he would defend the weak,” she said.

Bronson started to get into trouble when his family moved to Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. By the age of 13, he was part of a gang of four robbers and was reprimanded in juvenile court after he was caught stealing.

He also used to get into fights from an early age and was often absent from school.

His first job was at Tesco, which lasted a fortnight before he was dismissed for attacking his manager.

Bronson was first imprisoned in 1974, at the age of 22, after being convicted of armed robbery. He was sent to HM Prison Liverpool, where he attacked two prisoners.

After later attacking fellow prisoner John Henry Gallagher with a glass jug, the 69-year-old’s seven-year sentence was extended and he was given an extra nine months.

He also attempted to strangle Gordon Robinson while at Broadmoor, before causing £250,000 worth of damage when he staged a three-day protest on a rooftop.

Bronson was later transferred to a number of other prisons, and quickly built up a reputation as a violent and highly dangerous inmate.

While at Wandsworth Prison, he even attempted to poison a prisoner in the cell next to him.

Writing in his 2000 book, Bronson, he said: “I’m a nice guy, but sometimes I lose all my senses and become nasty.

“That doesn’t make me evil, just confused.”

He is currently in HM Prison Woodhill, Milton Keynes, where he has been since 2018.

Name changes

Bronson has changed his name a number of times, with his different titles defining certain periods in his life. Born Michael Gordon Peterson, he changed his name to Charles Bronson, after the Hollywood actor, during a short stint of freedom in 1987.

He used his new persona to launch an illegal bare-knuckle fighting career, but returned to jail in 1988, keeping his new name.

The criminal converted briefly to Islam in 2001 and became known as Charles Ali Ahmed after marrying Fatema Saira Rehman, a woman who had started to write to him during his time behind bars.

In August 2014, Charles announced he was legally changing his name to Charles Salvador, as a tribute to the artist Salvador Dali. He took up art and even started an art foundation in that name. His artwork has also been displayed on the Tube but was eventually taken down.

More than 100 pieces were sold in 2014, in an attempt to “renounce violence” that plagued his past.

He has been married three times. In February 2022, Gemma Fernandez reportedly built up a friendship with Bronson and opened up about her visit to HMP Woodhill on her YouTube channel. The former model, who is in her 30s, decided to contact Bronson after watching Tom Hardy play him in the 2008 movie, Bronson.