How ‘gentle mild-mannered’ child who had first job in Tesco became Britain’s most notorious prisoner
The man dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous prisoner’ was originally known as Michael Gordon Peterson and was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1952.
In fact Charles Bronson’s aunt once claimed he had wanted to protect others, insisting he was: ‘Gentle and mild-mannered, never a bully; he would defend the weak.’
But from a young age Bronson indulged in petty crime, joining a gang of four robbers at the age of 13.
He is known to have worked a two-week stint in Tesco but was sacked for attacking his manager.
Then he was given a number of suspended sentences and reprimands for low-level offences until he was first sent to jail for armed robbery in 1974 for seven years aged 22.
In an interview in 2021 he revealed the best piece of advice he had ever been given – which goes some way to explain his subsequent life of violence.
Bronson admitted: ‘That’s got to be my dad who told me, “Whenever there’s a bit of trouble, son, always get the first punch in”.
Charles Bronson leaving the High Court in London, May 3, 2001, is now bidding for parole
Charles Bronson, armed robber, who has been called Britain’s most dangerous prisoner
Brinson memorably described the notorious Kray twins as ‘the best two guys I’ve ever met’
‘Done me proud that has. Yeah, get the first one in and hope for the best – I’ve lived by that, it’s got me through some crazy times.’
And while in Walton Gaol, he randomly attacked two prisoners and was sent to Hull the following year.
In the next few years, Bronson continued to attack other inmates, adding months to his sentence and being switched between prisons.
At HMP Wandsworth, he tried to poison another prisoner, leading to him being sent to Parkhurst psychiatric facility where he befriended the infamous Kray twins.
The criminal attacked and kidnapped prison art teacher Phil Danielson in 1999 and was sentenced to life in 2000
The parole board confirmed that Charles Bronson’s hearing is set for March 6 and March 8, and said that reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care
Bronson, pictured on his way to a parole hearing at the Old Bailey in 2004, was first locked up for armed robbery in 1974
He even described the pair, who ruled the East End of London with their gang during the 1950s and 1960s, as ‘the best two guys I’ve ever met’.
Again, he continued to attack other prisoners, threaten police officers, took people hostage and even attempted suicide as he was moved from prison to prison.
In 1982, he performed a rooftop protest at Broadmoor, removing tiles from the top of the building. He took part in a number of protests over the years, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
He was released in 1987, and began boxing in the East End of London, changing his name to Charles Bronson after the actor.
Phil Danielson, who Bronson took hostage, has said the incident permanently affected his life
Bronson has changed his name to Salvador as a nod to his favourite artist Salvador Dalie
After just 69 days of freedom, he was once again jailed for armed robbery for seven years in 1988.
In 1989, he created a spear out of a broken bottle and a broom handle and ran riot in the nude.
Three years later, he was released – this time lasting 53 days outside jail. He was arrested for conspiracy to rob.
In 1993, he took a librarian hostage and asked police to get him a cup of tea, a helicopter, and an inflatable doll.
Three years later, he took two Iraqi prisoners hostage in Belmarsh, demanding a plane, sub-machine guns and ice cream from police negotiators before releasing them.
He was handed a life sentence in 1999 for taking Phil Danielson hostage and trashing the prison in a 44-hour long siege.
In 2001, he married Fatema Saira Rehman, and converted to Islam, demanding to be known as Charles Ali Ahmed. After they divorced four years later, he renounced the religion.
In 2014, he changed his name to Charles Salvador, after Salvador Dali.
Bronson and Paula Williamson met in 2016, and Bronson later proposed to her in 2017 by serenading her a version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way, from a prison pay phone
Ms Williamson and Bronson married in November 2017, and walked down the aisle to the Death March
Bronson and Paula Williamson met in 2016, and Bronson later proposed to her in 2017 by serenading her a version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way, from a prison pay phone.
They married in November 2017, and walked down the aisle to the Death March. They had their marriage annulled in June 2019.
She was found dead at her home in Sneyd Green on July that year in her bedroom after taking drink and drugs.
In total, Bronson has taken hostages in ten prison sieges and attacked at least 20 prison officers.
A public Parole Board hearing for him is due to take place this month.
It runs the real possibility he could be freed for the first time in decades.
The chance is a prospect he appears to savour, telling a Channel Four documentary: ‘I’m focused, I’m settled, I can actually smell and taste freedom like I’ve never, ever done in my life.
‘I’m now anti-crime, anti-violent. What the f**k am I still in prison for?’