Charles Bronson has PTSD after 'brutal and unacceptable' treatment behind bars, says psychologist

8 March 2023, 15:24

Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Charles Bronson has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after 'brutal and unacceptable' treatment behind bars, a Parole Board panel has heard.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Bronson, who is one of the UK's longest serving prisoners holds "anti-authoritarian views" and is "suspicious" of the motives of others, the second day of his review revealed.

Three parole judges - who have not been publicly named - are considering his case at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

The 70-year-old compared his experience before the Parole Board to The Apprentice, inviting the panel to view his art.

An independent psychologist employed by his legal team said he had shown mild symptoms of PTSD, partly due to some "brutal and unacceptable treatment" while in the prison system.

She told the hearing on Wednesday: "He feels like the whole system is about humiliating and degrading him."

Bronson - whose real name is Michael Peterson - was previously diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder, the psychologist added.

Read more: Charles Bronson’s son says his dad 'has kept his nose clean' for the last 8 years and 'he wants a chance at freedom’

Read more: 'Britain’s most violent prisoner' Charles Bronson tells parole hearing he is 'almost an angel now'

Charles Bronson appeared before a parole panel today.
Charles Bronson appeared before a parole panel today. Picture: Alamy

She warned that he would need practical support if he were released as he has never even used a cash machine.

He has been held in "very solitary conditions for a long period of time" and that a move from the close supervision unit where he is being held is "long overdue", she said.

As for his violence towards prison staff, the psychologist claimed it had been fuelled by a dislike of authority figures and does not extend to members of the public.

"His use of violence towards staff members has been almost a matter of survival," she said. "He's got that real level of dislike for authority figures.

"I don't think he has that for members of the public."

Once dubbed one of Britain's most violent offenders, Bronson has spent most of the past 48 years behind bars, apart from two brief periods of freedom during which he reoffended, for a string of thefts, firearms and violent offences, including 11 hostage-takings in nine different sieges.

Victims included governors, doctors, staff and, on one occasion, his own solicitor.

He was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of four years in 2000 for taking a prison teacher at HMP Hull hostage for 44 hours. Since then, the Parole Board has repeatedly refused to direct his release.

The review heard that Bronson has a "romanticised" view of violent incidents in the past, after he told parole judges how he loved a "rumble" and enjoyed mass brawls in prison but insisted he has since found solace in art and is a man of "peace".

"He found violence cathartic in the past," the psychologist said. "I think now what he does is he tends to weigh up the pros and cons of violence to himself, that is an effective strategy."

She added: "I can imagine him telling somebody to eff off quite frankly... but it's whether that equates to serious harm."

Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson. Picture: Getty

As the psychologist's evidence came to a close, Bronson commented of the hearing: "It's like being on The Apprentice (with) Lord Sugar."

Bronson - who changed his surname to Salvador in 2014 - 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.

The third and final day of the proceedings will take place behind closed doors on Friday so confidential details can be discussed.

The Parole Board will consider whether he should remain behind bars after the hearing, with a decision due at a later date.