Delayed prison letter blunder 'could have biased Charles Bronson case'
A prison postal blunder could have caused a miscarriage of justice for notorious prisoner Charles Bronson, his supporters claim.
Bronson was forced to wear a garish yellow and green ‘escape risk’ uniform before a jury when he went on trial accused of attacking a governor at Wakefield Prison.
Supporters of the 67-year-old inmate say they were denied attempts to provide him with a suit to wear when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court last November.
Weeks before the trial Bronson’s close friend wrote to the governor of Frankland Prison, Durham, where he was being held.
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A request was made to allow a pair of trousers, a shirt, jacket and shoes to be delivered to him to wear during the court hearing.
Trial judge Tom Bayliss, QC, also said provision should be made for Bronson to be provided with a change of clothes at a previous court hearing. Bronson’s friend received no reply to the letter and Bronson – who has spent more than 40 years behind bars – had to appear before the jury in prison uniform.
This week Bronson’s friend received a letter from Frankland’s head of operations - THREE MONTHS after the end of the trial - informing him that it would be fine to take a suit into the jail for Bronson to wear at trial.
The letter is dated December 6 – three weeks after the conclusion of the trial – but the envelope was stamped February 21 this year.
It states: “There are no issues with you bringing clothes for Mr Salvador’s court appearance.
“You would be allowed to hand in a pair of trousers, a short and a jacket.
“These would only be for court and would be returned the next time you visit.”
Bronson supporters claim the delay could have caused him not to receive a fair trial as the prison uniform could have swayed the jury against him.
A source close to Bronson said: “When I told Charlie about what happened he just laughed and said ‘you couldn’t make this **** up! It doesn’t surprise me but I still won anyway.’
“But there is a serious issue here. Charlie was put in a very unfair position in a serious criminal trial because of this.
“What chance have inmates got when letters can just get ‘lost’ like that?”
Bronson, who now goes by the name Charles Salvador, was found not guilty of attempted GBH. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual prisoners.”
Bronson was found not guilty of attempted GBH after being accused of attacking a prison governor at Wakefield’s maximum security prison.
Bronson was said to have lunged at Mark Docherty as he entered a room for a welfare meeting. He landed on top of Mr Docherty and screamed “I will bite your ****ing nose off and gouge your eyes out”, before prison officers intervened and restrained him.
Representing himself at Leeds Crown Court, Bronson claimed 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.
The defendant 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 found Bronson not guilty after deliberating for just short of three hours.