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Charles Bronson claims he’s ‘chilled out’ in parole hearing after concerns he won’t cope if released

Charles Bronson has claimed he is now a “chilled-out man” as he made a bid for freedom after his prison offender manager raised concerns about the notorious prisoner’s ability to cope outside jail.

Bronson, who has been speaking at the public parole board hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice today, also admitted that he was a “horrible person” when he took nine people hostage during his time in prison.

Born Michael Peterson, Bronson has spent 48 years behind bars and has been dubbed the UK’s most violent prisoner. Initially sentenced in 1974 for an armed robbery, he has only spent two brief stints outside, after which he reoffended. While in prison, his sentences were regularly extended for assaults, threats and hostage-taking.

Bronson, who now calls himself Salvador after artist Salvador Dali, admitted to the panel judges that he was a “horrible person” when he took nine people hostage on separate occasions in jail, including prison art teacher Phil Danielson, who was attacked by Bronson during a 43-hour ordeal in 1999.

“I was a horrible person and I couldn’t stop taking hostages. I went through a phase, I couldn’t help taking hostages. I was battling against the system…it was my way of getting back,” Bronson told the hearing.

“There’s nothing better than wrapping a governor up like a Christmas turkey.”

Bronson claimed he was now a “chilled-out man” and was ready to be released from prison. He has been serving at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes since February 2019.

“How much longer have I got to go? I’m ready now, I’m a chilled-out man, I feel comfortable in myself. I handle situations 100 times better than I used to. I’m no longer angry,” he said.

Telling the panel about his previous crimes, he said: “Am I sorry? Maybe. Would I do it again? Definitely not.”

Bronson said he had a “beautiful childhood” but that he enjoyed the “excitement” he got from crime.

The first witness in the hearing, Bronson’s prison offending manager, who was not named, raised concerns about the inmate’s ability to cope with life on the outside.

The offender manager said that while Bronson is anti-drugs and anti-violence, and has made progress, there were concerns around him understanding harm and victim empathy.

They said: “The risk of violence is untested in lots of ways. Mr Salvador is still being kept in very small units with very limited opportunities to engage with others.

“As the external controls fall away or diminish, Mr Salvador will need the internal controls to manage himself appropriately and I feel he’s got a way to go to establish that safely.”

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The manager said they would worry Bronson would be overwhelmed in open conditions at a lower security prison, but that he had started learning breathing exercises and coping methods, such as asking for time out in his cell in preparation for a future move.

“Charlie’s used to a lot of solitary time anyway. He doesn’t enjoy it…but he copes quite well. He has his exercises, he has his routines,” adding that he “kind of loses himself in his artwork” – something he has become known for while in prison, the offender manager said.

It is the first day of Bronson’s public parole board hearing, which is due to continue in public on Wednesday and behind closed doors on Friday.

He is the second inmate in UK legal history to have his case heard in public after rules changed last year in a bid to remove the secrecy around the process.

Bronson was denied parole in a bid in 2017.

Before serving time at HMP Woodhill he was at HMP Frankland after he was moved from Wakefield prison for “security reasons” amid incidents between 2017 and 2018 involving threats to governors.

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