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Charles Bronson

Hull Prison where Bronson took Phil Danielson, a civilian education officer, hostage for over 40hrs
Born Michael Gordon Peterson
December 6, 1952 (1952-12-06) (age 57)
Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
Alias(es) Charles Ali Ahmed
Prisoner: A8076AG
Conviction(s) armed robbery, wounding with intent, wounding, criminal damage, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment, blackmail, threatening to kill
Penalty Initially 7 years, currently life
Status Incarcerated at HMP Woodhill as of November 2009[1]
Occupation circus strongman, bareknuckle boxer
Spouse Irene
Fatema Saira Rehman
Parents Eira and Joe Peterson
Children Michael Peterson

Charles "Charlie" Bronson (born Michael Gordon Peterson, 6 December 1952) is an English criminal often referred to in the British press as the "most violent prisoner in Britain".[2] Born in Luton, England, Peterson often found his way into fights before he began a bare-knuckle boxing career in the East End of London. His promoter was not happy with his name and suggested he change it to Charles Bronson.

In 1974 he was imprisoned for a robbery and sentenced to seven years. While in prison he began making a name for himself as a loose cannon often fighting convicts and prison guards. These fights added years onto his sentence. Regarded as a problem prisoner, he was moved 120 times throughout Her Majesty's Prison Service and spent most of that time in solitary confinement. What was originally a seven year term stretched out to a fourteen year sentence that resulted in his first wife Irene, with whom he had a son, leaving him. He was released on October 30, 1988 but only spent 69 days free before he was arrested again.

While in jail in 2001 he married his second wife Fatema Saira Rehman, a Bangladeshi-born divorcée who inspired him to convert to Islam taking the name of Charles Ali Ahmed. The second marriage lasted four years before he got divorced and renounced Islam. Known as one of the hardest criminals in England, Bronson has written many books about his experiences and famous prisoners he has met throughout his internment. A self-declared fitness fanatic, Bronson has also written a book on working out in small places.


Before prison

Early life

Luton, England, which Bronson considers his home town

Bronson was born Michael Gordon Peterson at 59 Long Croft Road, Luton, England. He was one of three boys [3] and his parents, Eira and Joe Peterson, would later run the Conservative club in Aberystwyth, and his uncle and aunt were mayor and mayoress of the town in the 1960s and 1970s. His aunt, Eileen Parry, is quoted as saying "As a boy he was 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."[4]

When he was a teenager, Bronson moved with his family to Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, where he started getting into trouble. Bronson later returned to Luton, which is often referred to as his home town, where he earned a living as a circus strongman. He was married in December 1970 to Irene, with whom he had a son, Michael.

Boxing career and name change

Prior to being imprisoned, Bronson had a short-lived career in bare-knuckle boxing in the East End of London, during which time he became an associate of Lenny McLean. On the website it states that Charlie changed his name from Mick Peterson to Charles Bronson by his fight promoter in 1987[5], "not because he liked the idea of the ‘Death Wish’ films starring the original Charles Bronson."[6]

Life in prison

Ashworth Hospital where Bronson spent some time as mental patient

Bronson was imprisoned for seven years in 1974, aged 22, for an armed robbery at a Post Office in Little Sutton, a suburb of Ellesmere Port, during which he stole just £26.18.[7] His sentence has been repeatedly extended for crimes committed within prison, which include wounding with intent, wounding, criminal damage, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment, blackmail and threatening to kill.

Bronson has served all but four of his years in prison in solitary confinement due to a number of hostage situations, rooftop protests, and repeated attacks on prison staff and on other inmates. His dangerous behaviour has meant that he has spent time in over 120 different prisons, including all three maximum security hospitals: Broadmoor Hospital, Rampton Secure Hospital, and Ashworth Hospital.[8]

Bronson has spent a total of just four months and nine days out of custody since 1974. He was released on 30 October 1988 and spent 69 days as a free man before being arrested for robbery, and then released again on 9 November 1992, spending 53 days as a free man before being arrested again, this time for conspiracy to rob.[4]

In 1999 a special prison unit was set up for Bronson and two other violent prisoners from Woodhill, to reduce the risk they posed to staff and other prisoners.[9]

In 2000, Bronson received a discretionary life sentence with a three year tariff for a hostage-taking incident. His appeal against this sentence was denied in 2004.[10]

Bronson remained a "Category A" prisoner when he was moved to Wakefield High-Security Prison.[11] He was due for a parole hearing in September 2008, but this was postponed when his lawyer objected to a one-hour parole interview, requesting a full day to deal with Bronson's case.[12] The parole hearing took place on 11 March 2009 and parole was refused shortly afterwards.[13] The Parole Board said that Mr Bronson had not proved he was a reformed character.[14]

Hostage incidents

Belmarsh Prison where Bronson took two Iraqi hijackers hostage

Bronson has been involved in over a dozen hostage incidents, some of which are described below:

  • Bronson took hostages and staged a 47-hour rooftop protest at Broadmoor in 1983, causing £750,000 of damage.[15]
  • 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.[4]
  • 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.[4]
  • In 1999 he took Phil Danielson, a civilian education officer hostage at Hull prison.[3] 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. Footage of the incident can be seen here.[3]
  • 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 spectacles) had his glasses broken. Bronson received £200 compensation for his broken glasses,[11] which he claimed were made of "pre-war gold" and given to him by Lord Longford.[citation needed]

Personal life

First marriage

When he was still called Michael Peterson he met Irene his first wife in 1969. Irene remembers that he, "was so different from any other boys I knew. He always wore tailored suits, had perfectly-groomed sideburns and a cockney accent."[16] Eight months later, when Irene was 4 months pregnant, they married at Chester Register Office in December 1970. Four years later when their son Mike was three the police raided their house searching for Peterson. He was eventually caught and sent to prison. Irene was going to wait till he was released but after five years with no end in sight she asked and was given a divorce. She later remarried and became Irene Dunroe and had two more children with her new husband.[16]

Second marriage and second name change

In 2001, Bronson married again, this time in Milton Keynes', HMP Woodhill to Fatema Saira Rehman, a Bangladeshi-born divorcee[17] who had seen his picture in a newspaper and began writing to him. Rehman had visited Bronson ten times prior to their wedding.[18][19] She had worked at a women's shelter prior to their meeting but when her work found out about her relationship she was let go.[20] For a short time, Bronson converted to Islam (Rehman is Muslim) and wished to be known as Charles Ali Ahmed. After four years he and Rehman divorced.[16] Rehman has since given many interviews regarding her short marriage to Bronson, portraying him in a negative light. In one interview she was quoted as saying, "He fooled me - he is nothing but an abusive, racist thug."[3]

Shortly after the 9-11 attacks in New York two men allegedly visited Bronson (Who was then known as Ahmed) offering to release him into general population if he would infiltrate the Muslim prison population.[21]

Occupations and projects

While in prison, Bronson has developed an extreme fitness regime and claims he is still able to do 92 press-ups in 30 seconds.[22] In 2002, he published a book Solitary Fitness, detailing an individual training process with minimal resources and space.[23]

For the past ten years, Bronson has occupied himself by writing poetry and producing pieces of art; he has had eleven books published, including in 2008 his only self-penned book 'Loonyology: In My Own Words'. He has won 11 Koestler Trust Awards for his poetry and art.[24]

Film of Bronson's life

Bronson, which loosely follows Bronson's life, produced by Vertigo Films, was released in Britain on 13 March 2009. It stars Tom Hardy in the title role, and is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.[25] There was some controversy caused at the première, when a recording of Bronson's voice was played with no prior permission granted by officers at HM Prison Service, who called for an inquiry into how the recording had been made.[26]


  • Bronson, Charles; Richards, Stephen (2002). Solitary Fitness (2002 ed.). Mirage. ISBN 1902578120.  - Total pages: 215
  • Bronson, Charles; Richards, Stephen. Insanity: My Mad Life (31 Mar 2004 ed.). John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1844540308.  - Total pages: 335
  • Bronson, Charles. Loonyology: In My Own Words (2 Nov 2009 ed.). Apex Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1906358117. - Total pages: 466
  • Bronson, Charles. Diaries from Hell: Charles Bronson - My Prison Diaries (1 May 2009 ed.). Y Lolfa. ISBN 1847711162. - Total pages: 464
  • Bronson, Charles; Richards, Stephen (1999). The Charles Bronson Book of Poems: Birdman Opens His Mind Bk. 1 (1 May 1999 ed.). Mirage. ISBN 1902578031.  - Total pages: 78
  • Bronson, Charles; Currie, Tel (2005). Heroes and Villains: The Good, the Mad, the Bad and the Ugly (5 Aug 2005 ed.). John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1844541185.  - Total pages: 288
  • Bronson, Charles; Richards, Stephen. The Good Prison Guide (28 Feb 2007 ed.). John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1844543595.  - Total pages: 288
  • Bronson, Charles; Richards, Stephen. Silent Scream: The Charles Bronson Story (5 Sep 1999 ed.). Mirage. ISBN 1902578082.  - Total pages: 248
  • Bronson, Charles; Emmins, Mark (Editor). Con-artist (19 Dec 2008 ed.). Matador. ISBN 1848760485.  - Total pages: 108

External links


  1. ^ "About Charles Bronson". Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Why are women drawn to men behind bars?". Denise Mina (The Guardian). January 13, 2003.,3604,873464,00.html. 
  3. ^ a b c d Wansell, Geoffrey (March 7, 2009). "The lionising of a monster: The film that portrays armed robber Charles Bronson as a gentle giant... and claims HE'S the victim". The Daily Mail. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Bronson: 'Gentle boy' to terror inmate". BBC News. February 17, 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  5. ^ "About Charles Bronson". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  6. ^ Currie, Tel (2010). "Charles Bronson the Truth". Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ Palmer, Alun (March 13, 2009). "Charles Bronson: Prison cost me my sanity". The Mirror. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ Clements, Jo (March 10, 2009). "Prison thug Charles Bronson admits 'I'm not ashamed' in message to moviegoers". The daily mail. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Special new unit for Britain's three most dangerous prisoners". The Independent. August 25, 1999. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  10. ^ "Judge praises Bronson, but rules he must stay in jail". The Daily Telegraph. April 3, 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  11. ^ a b "Bronson gets payout from prison". BBC News. May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  12. ^ "Statement from Charles Bronson in Wakefield Prison". August 6, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Jailhouse flick: Charles Bronson makes biopic from solitary". London: The Times. February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  14. ^ "'Dangerous' Charles Bronson refused parole after more than 34 years behind bars". News. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  15. ^ "Free Charles Bronson Website - Documents". Free Charles Bronson Website - Documents
  16. ^ a b c Dunroe, Irene (September 15, 2007). "Your dad's Britain's most violent prisoner". Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Attempt to publish Bronson pictures". BBC News. January 20, 2004. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  18. ^ "New bride for Bronson". BBC News. June 1, 2001. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  19. ^ "Lord Longford toasts madcap marriage of jailed Bronson". The Daily Telegraph. June 5, 2001. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  20. ^ Addley, Esther (August 16, 2001). "Charlie is my darling". The Guardian. Retrieved January 10, 2010. 
  21. ^ McCarthy, James (Feb 3 2008). "UK’s most dangerous jailbird Charles Bronson in MI5 tap-up claim". Wales On Sunday. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  22. ^ Verkaik, Robert (May 19, 2008). "Visiting time: Charles Bronson invites us into his cell". The Independent. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  23. ^ Bronson, Charles (2002). Solitary Fitness (2002 ed.). Mirage. ISBN 1902578120.  - Total pages: 215
  24. ^ "The Koestler Trust". The Koestler Trust. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  25. ^ "Bronson (2009)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  26. ^ "Bronson heard at movie premiere". BBC News. March 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 19, 2010

Unfortunately, we could not find any sentences from other sites similar to those above.

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