CHARLES Bronson has told a told a Leeds Crown Court jury that “for once in my life I really am an innocent man”.
The 66-year-old denies attempting to seriously harm HMP Wakefield governor Mark Docherty prior to a welfare meeting in which he is said to have pinned him to the ground and threatened to bite his nose off.
Bronson was heard whistling the theme to The Great Escape film moments before prosecutors say he launched himself at Mr Docherty - who he allegedly wanted to attack for months - before prison staff restrained him.
Leeds Crown Court has heard that before his wedding to actress Paula Williamson at the prison in November 2017, Bronson had been told he and his new wife would be given 22 wedding photographs, all taken by prison staff, but that Mr Docherty later changed his decision.
The court also heard Bronson had stopped being allowed to make phone calls to his mother on around November 12 last year following a decision made by Mr Docherty.
Bronson, who is representing himself, sang the oath as he started giving evidence in his defence from the dock and stood throughout.
He said: “Members of the jury, here I am facing the biggest farce probably in prison history and that’s why I am here today.”
He said he had planned to call three witnesses, including his wife, but explained it would be “very, very cruel” to do so because she was now in a rehab clinic after taking an overdose and had “almost died”.
He said their divorce was “in the process” and he had “lost a loving beautiful wife over all this nonsense”.
Bronson said he had decided not to call Robert Maudsley as a witness “for the sake of you 12 members of the jury.”
Bronson told the jury: “He would have frightened the life out of you. My neighbour for the last 40 years on and off, the original Hannibal the Cannibal.
“Bob has been in solitary for 40 years for killing three people in prison and one outside.
“I wanted Bob to come here and explain what 40 years of solitary confinement can do to you. I decided not to call him because he would have frightened the life out of you.”
Explaining the incident on January 25, he said: “When I went into that room there has been a lot said about me whistling the Great Escape. Great tune. I am always whistling, I am always
singing. I am always happy, most of the time. So it’s not unusual and I don’t understand why they have made a big issue of it.
“When I went into the room I was not happy at all with the governor. I don’t like him, make no bones about it. An arrogant, ignorant man.
“When I went into that room there was nothing in my mind whatsoever to attack the governor. Coming from me, the man of violence most of my life. I will put my hands up to that, I have
been a very nasty man in my time.
“I was going to grab him in a bear hug, a gentle one. No intention of harming him and I was going to whisper in his ear ‘where’s my wife’s photos?’
“Unfortunately, me being who I am, I believe the staff, the prison officers, actually over-reacted. I can understand why. I am not blaming them.
“If I had hurt that man, punched him... I would be standing here pleading guilty and I would deserve everything that happened.
“I never injured him and I never intended to injure him. It was more of a wake-up call for him, a reality check - you may be the governor, a man of power, do whatever you want to me but
don’t mess around with my family.”
He said his nose-biting comment, caught on bodycam footage, was “horrible” but they were “just words”
Bronson said: “It’s a figure of speech. I would never dream of biting someone’s nose off.”
He told jurors how he had been making progress in prison but it “wasn’t to be”.
He said: “This incident has cost me dearly but for once in my life I really am an innocent man. Thank you very much for listening to me.”
Bronson agreed with prosecutor Carl Fitch his relationship with Mr Docherty had been “poor” for the last two years.
He said he was “upset” about the decision a few days before his wedding to not allow the photographs to be taken out of prison and for two guests not to be allowed to attend - his son,
George, described as an “ex-paparazzi” by Bronson, and a man he named as Basky Baskerville - “ a lunatic” who would often run on to football pitches.
But he said he went ahead with the ceremony and photographs were taken.
He said: “Hopefully I had little bit of faith that somewhere down the line they may review it and say ‘Charlie, we have made a mistake, you can have your photos’.”
Bronson said he remained “very upset” his mother could not have the photographs as she would “certainly never sell those photos”.
Cross examining Bronson, Mr Fitch asked him if he blamed Mark Docherty over for the decision about the wedding photographs.
Bronson replied: “Partly.”
Mr Fitch asked him why he still went through with the wedding ceremony given the fact that he had been given three days notice about the photographs.
Bronson replied: “Because I loved her and she loved me, It was a beautiful wedding.
“When she walked into that room it was like looking at an angel. I was punching well above my weight.”
Mr Fitch outlined a number of Bronson’s previous convictions including inflicting actual bodily harm on the governor of HMP Woodhill in 2014 when he grabbed him by his neck and started
to choke him.
The court heard that attack followed the governor deciding to stop Bronson’s post going out.
Bronson said: “My mother’s post by the way. I should have punched him a few more times as well.
“You don’t mess around with elderly ladies, especially my mother.”
Bronson said he believed he may have tripped as he went into the room to see Mr Docherty.
“His injuries, minor as they are, could well have been caused by another officer,” he said.
“It’s a possibility, it happens. If I was going to attack him he would have had serious facial injuries.
“I agree my behaviour on that video is atrocious. It’s the way I talk. It’s the way I express myself.”
Bronson told the jury he has only spent four months outside of prison in the past 44-years.
He said: “That’;s when I took up my prizefighting. It didn’t last. I’m now going to tell you my history.
Bronson said he had seen the body of a 16-year-old boy who hung himself at a remand centre in the 1960s.
He said the image has stayed with him ever since.
Bronson said he had seen other “horrible, horrible” deaths over the years.
Bronson said in the 1960s and 1970s, prison officers were former servicemen, adding: “They were men of honour. They didn’t f*** about believe me.
“Throw a right hander at one of them and you took 21 back, make no mistake about it.
“Unfortunately I got wrapped up in the world of violence in prison.”
He said in the 1970s he experienced the “liquid cosh” describing it as “an injection in the backside.”
He said he was placed in body belts and in 1978 he was declared insane and sent to institutions including Broadmoor and Rampton.
Bronson said: “I arrived at Broadmoor 12 stone and superfit but in two years I was 19 stone, fat, lazy and tired.
“In a way I suppose it was good for me because it put me off drugs for the rest of my life. Why would you take that s***.?”
Bronson said he returned to the prison system and said he has been described as a “man who is hostage to his own past.”
Bronson said: “I have had 11 hostages in nine different seizures.
“I have had governors hostage, staff hostages, I took my own solicitor hostage once.
“I’m not proud of it and I’m not ashamed.”
Bronson said he had been on nine prison roofs and probably caused about £5m damage.
Bronson asked the jury if they were aware he was an unlicensed fighter.
Bronson said he had a “fantastic following,” adding: “Ron and Reggie, they were part of it. I had six fights outside and won all of them. Five with a man and one with a Rottweiler dog. I’m very proud of it. It was an honest living.”
Bronson made a closing speech to the jury after a three-day trial.
Bronson said: “Since when is a crime to hug your fellow man?
“There is not enough man hugs in this insane world today.
“It was from my heart and my soul. It’s a sure way of bonding and bringing peace on earth.
“It should not be a criminal offence to show a little kindness, especially in our prisons
“ Nowadays they are riddled with pain, misery violence and persecution and the dreaded Spice, which has destroyed our prisons.
“I don’t really understand why this was ever brought to court.
“I’m here today for a simple man hug and my 22 wedding photos, which I had paid for.”
He added: “For the first time in 66-years living on this planet I am an innocent man and may British justice do me proud. Thank you.”
Judge Tom Bayliss QC agreed to Bronson’s request not to appear in person at the trial for future hearings and said he could appear via video link from HMP Frankland in Durham.
Judge Bayliss told the jury he will sum up the case from 10.30am tomorrow (Thurs Nov 15) before asking them to retire to consider their verdict.
Bronson, who is standing trial under the name Charles Salvador, denies a charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.