Charles Bronson caused "£5million" in criminal damage during rooftop protests
Charles Bronson - dubbed Britain’s most dangerous prisoner - estimates that he has caused £5m worth of criminal damage during nine rooftop protests within Her Majesty's prisons.
He has spent almost half a century locked up in the country’s most notorious prisons and asylums.
A one time armed robber, 95 per cent of his crimes have been committed while in custody.
He has spent 45 years as a Category A prisoner for hostage taking and repeated attacks on inmates and guards.
Now aged 66, Bronson says his days of railing against the system are finally over.
In an exclusive interview, the former bare-knuckle fighter says he is hoping to be released from custody before he reaches 70 and he has revealed he’s planning to “smash his way” into the art world.
Listen to the full recording in our exclusive interview: The Bronson Call: Visit our interactive Charles Bronson interview website
After a lifetime of destruction, he’s aiming to channel his new-found creativity towards his latest bid for freedom.
It is six months since Bronson was found not guilty of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent against Wakefield Prison governor Mark Docherty.
Bronson - now known as Charles Salvador in honour of his favourite surrealist artist Salvador Dali - says a conviction would have been ‘the last screw in his coffin’.
Cleared by the jury, Bronson says he is enjoying a new lease of life at HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes.
In fact, he feels like a “new geezer”.
His focus is now on persuading the Parole Board that he is finally safe to be released back into the community before he is 70 years old.
He said: “Ever since that day in Leeds court my life’s turned around for the better.“I was looking at another ten years there. If I had got another guilty there that would have been the last screw in my coffin.
“Since then I’ve boxed it clever. I’ve had a move. I’m doing well. I feel good. Focused. Positive. I just feel fantastic.
“It’s looking like I’m getting out in about three years' time.
“I’m doing courses. As you know I’m doing a life sentence, but my tariff was only three years. I’m 17 years over that tariff now.
“Take into account my age - I’m 67 this year - I’m going to be out before I’m 70.”
Bronson is a self-taught artist. He is prolific in his output.
Most days in solitary confinement are taken up with creating pieces using basic materials which he sends to friends, family and his loyal army of supporters.Bronson believes art has helped him become a better person.
His work depicts the violence, inhumanity, brutality, madness and creativity of a complicated mind.An exhibition of his work was held in London in March after the lifer struck up an unlikely friendship with international art curator Lisa Gray.Bronson said the exhibition's success has spurred him on to achieve great things upon his releaseHe said: “There’s only one thing I’m going to do out there, mate.“I’m going to get stuck in and I’m going to smash my way into the art world.
“I’m a born again artist. I love my art.
“I’ve always been a destructive person all my life.
“But since I’ve found art, I’m now creative. Positive. Focused.
“And I can’t wait to get out there and start creating - masterpieces. On canvas with oils.
“And I would like to go around the schools and get the kids involved in art.
“If possible visit a few YP jails (Young Offender Institutions) and get the youngsters involved in art. Get them off the streets.
“Get them in to the art classes. Get them into gyms. Boxing. Football. Weightlifting.
“Everyone is born with a gift and it took me over half a century to find my gift.
“And now I’ve found it, I’m going to use it and hopefully help a lot of people along the way.”
He added: “Yes, I’m getting out in about three years’ time.
“Love and respect to the world.”
How Bronson fought his own case at Leeds Crown Court
Charles Bronson said his victorious legal battle at Leeds Crown Court has left him feeling like a “new geezer”.
Bronson was cleared of attempting to seriously harm to a prison governor after representing himself at court.
The inmate was said to have lunged at Mark Docherty as he entered a room for a welfare meeting at HMP Wakefield.
He spoke about why he had taken the decision to fight the case on his own.
He said: “If I would have lost it I would have got another ten years.
“That would have been the last screw in my coffin. I would never have got out.
“I sacked all my legal team. I had no faith in them.
“I thought ‘I’m going to smash this on my own. With the truth’.
“And I stuck to the truth. And the truth done me proud.
“A wonderful jury who understood me and listened to me.
“They probably didn’t agree with everything I said - why should they?”
During the trial, jurors heard how Bronson landed on top of Mr Docherty and screamed "I will bite your f***ing nose off and gouge your eyes out", before prison officers intervened and restrained him.
Giving evidence, Bronson said he had intended to give Mr Docherty a "gentle bear hug" and whisper in his ear, but tripped, or was tripped by someone, and fell.
He admitted he partly blamed the governor at Wakefield's segregation unit after he was told photographs of his prison wedding to actress Paula Williamson two months earlier would no longer be allowed to leave the jail until his release.
Bronson said he intended to whisper "where's my wife's photos?" in what he described as a "wake-up call" to the governor to not mess with his family.
Jurors unanimously found Bronson not guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent after deliberating for less than three hours.
Describing the hearing, he said: “And at the end of the day the system tried everything in their power to make me lose that trial.
“They wouldn’t even let me wear my own clothes.
“I had to wear a prison uniform with HM Prison wrote on the back.
“I was up against eight prosecution witnesses. Video evidence. Photographic evidence. And all I had was myself.
“I never had one witness.
“The jury could see right through it and that’s why I smashed it.”
Bronson was driven to Leeds for each day of the trial from HMP Frankland, County Durham, where he was sleeping on his cell floor after having his privileges removed.
He said: “I went to bed that night. At that time I was up in HMP Frankland.
“I had no bed and I was sleeping on the floor. I had no furniture for 13 months - closed visits.
“And that night when I got back to Frankland, I was lying on my floor, looking through the cell window up at the sky and there were stars in the sky.
“And I thought to myself ‘am I dreaming this or have I actually just won this trial.’
“And I thought to myself ‘someone up there must love me’.
“And from that day on I’ve felt nothing but good thoughts.”
As was widely reported at the time, Bronson did a celebratory jig in the dock as the jury returned the verdict, and said: “British justice. Best in the world.”
Recalling his moment of courtroom glory, he said: “I just feel like a new geezer and after 45 years locked up in her majesty's prisons and asylums I actually feel that something good come out of that trial.
“I found myself. And I must say, what a wonderful judge. I thought that judge (Judge Tom Bayliss, QC) was a very fair man.
“I thought he was an absolute gentleman but he was probably a hard man underneath.
“If I’d have got a guilty he would have probably smashed me for six. But he was a gentleman.
“He run that courtroom like a proper judge should.”