Prison governor tells how Charles Bronson ‘attacked him’

Charles Bronson was seen for the first time in more than a decade yesterday when he left his trial for attacking a prison govenor

Charles Bronson was seen for the first time in more than a decade yesterday when he left his trial for attacking a prison govenor

Charles Bronson today insisted in court that he would not have bitten a prison governor’s nose off during an alleged attack, saying: ‘I’m a vegetarian and all’.

The inmate, who is defending himself in a trial at Leeds Crown Court, made the comment while cross-examining Mark Docherty, a governor at HMP Wakefield whom he is accused of attempting to seriously harm on January 25.

Jurors previously heard how Bronson, 65, who denies a charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, had pinned the governor to the ground prior to a welfare meeting and told him: ‘I will bite you f***ing nose off and I will gouge your eyes out.’

Responding to suggestions he would have bitten the governor’s nose off had he not been quickly restrained by prison officers, Bronson said: ‘I can assure you I have never bitten anyone’s nose off in my life. Plus, I’m a vegetarian and all.’

Demonstrating to jurors the speed at which he can throw blows by punching his own hands in the dock, Bronson, a serving prisoner at HMP Frankland in County Durham, said: ‘In three seconds, I could hit a man ten times in the face.’

Prison governor Mark Docherty

The inmate wore a prison issue boiler suit as he represented himself at Leeds Crown Court

Prison governor Mark Docherty (left, pictured today) suffered minor injuries before Bronson (right, pictured yesterday) allegedly attempted to bite his face

Addressing Mr Docherty, he said: ‘If I had used both hands, I would have hit you 20 times in the face. Do you accept that?’

When the governor denied this, Bronson told how, due to the speed at which the prison staff grabbed him and moved him away, he was only on top of Mr Docherty for three seconds during the incident and did not throw a single punch.

He said: ‘But why did I not throw a punch? Because I wasn’t going to punch you. I wasn’t going to hurt you.’

The court heard how Mr Docherty suffered swelling to the neck, scratches to the face and whiplash following the alleged attack.

Admitting he was struggling not to laugh at the suggestion the governor suffered whiplash, Bronson said: ‘I don’t think that in a month of Sundays you had whiplash.

A court sketch of Bronson (centre) listening as Mr Docherty gives evidence at Leeds Crown Court today

A court sketch of Bronson (centre) listening as Mr Docherty gives evidence at Leeds Crown Court today

‘I think you’re trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Is that true?’  The governor indicated this was not true.

Jurors were told how, prior to his wedding to the 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, and no guests would be allowed to take their own pictures.

But Mr Docherty said staff decided not to give the pictures to Ms Williamson after hearing that among the guests was a member of the ‘paparazzi’ who had previously had their press licence taken away, and a prankster who entered the pitch at Stoke City Football Club with the words ‘Free Charles Bronson’ written on the back of his prisoner-style outfit.

Bronson asked Mr Docherty: ‘How do you feel about humiliating my wife? How do you feel about the fact that my wife was the only bride in Britain on that day not to have a wedding photograph?

The trial is the first time Bronson has been seen in public since he launched an appeal in 2004

The trial is the first time Bronson has been seen in public since he launched an appeal in 2004

‘How would you feel if that was your wife or husband? I don’t know what happens in your personal life, you may have a wife or a husband.’

Asking questions on whether the withholding of the pictures was perceived to have been a motivation behind the alleged attack, Bronson said: ‘Is it possible that all I was going to do was get you in a bear hug, a gentle one, and just whisper in your ear ‘where are my wife’s wedding photos?’.’

During the cross-examination, Bronson noted how Mr Docherty had described him in reports as being 5ft 6in tall, saying this was ‘belittling’ him as he is actually 5ft 10in.

‘That’s what the prison service does, belittle people,’ he said.

Bronson arrives at Leeds Crown Court in a prison van ah this morning

Bronson arrives at Leeds Crown Court in a prison van ahead of his trial continuing this morning

While cross-examining another prison officer later in the afternoon, Bronson said: ‘For the first time in 44 years in prison I never intended to be violent. I never meant to hurt the governor.’ 

Bronson married Paula Williamson in 2017

Earlier, Mr Docherty told the court how Bronson lunged at him and said: ‘I will take your f***ing eye out’.

Mr Docherty suffered minor injuries after being wrestled to the floor at HMP Wakefield before Bronson attempted to bite his face and gouge his eyes out, it was claimed.

Details of the alleged attack were heard during the trial at Leeds Crown Court today of Bronson, who denies attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

The court had heard Bronson attacked Mr Docherty while whistling the theme tune from The Great Escape.

The court previously heard he allegedly bore a grudge against Mr Docherty after he had banned guests from taking photos of Bronson’s prison wedding to actress Paula Williamson last year.

Jurors were told the attack took place at a monthly welfare and engagement meeting chaired by Mr Docherty.

Bronson, wearing a green and yellow prison boiler suit and sporting a handlebar moustache, is representing himself at his trial under his new name, Charles Salvador.

As Mr Docherty took the stand, Bronson was asked if he could see the governor clearly – to which he replied: ‘I don’t really want to see him but I can see him.’

Giving evidence, Mr Docherty said he had been in the role as prison governor at HMP Wakefield for around two years prior to the attack.

Mr Docherty’s relationship with Bronson broke down in early 2017 after a request for one of the inmate’s visitors to attend in his own wheelchair was initially refused, the court heard.

He said: ‘The relationship fell foul. He made a request to speak to security regarding one of his visitors attending a visit in his own wheelchair and that security had initially refused his request. When I went back to inform him of this, he personally blamed me.’

The visitor was eventually allowed to attend using his own wheelchair opposed to a prison issue one but Bronson did not recognise that, a court heard.

On January 25, Bronson elected to attend a monthly care management meeting, something he had declined to attend previously, a court heard.

Supporters of Bronson, including his brother Rod Harrison (left) attended court yesterday

Supporters of Bronson, including his brother Rod Harrison (left) attended court yesterday

The meeting, scheduled for 2.15pm, was also due to be attended by a psychologist, the independent monitoring board, probation and a personnel officer.

‘They don’t have to attend if they don’t want to, they are invited,’ added Mr Docherty. ‘He didn’t attend these meetings.

Bronson was last pictured in this image from inside Wakefield prison in June 2004

Bronson was last pictured in this image from inside Wakefield prison in June 2004

‘I was slightly ahead of the entrance to the door on his left. I was reading the notes, I was sitting down. I could hear him (Salvador) out in the corridor. 

‘I invited him into the room. Custodial manager Steven Coomber came into the room first, then the staff and Mr Salvador entered the room.

‘The next thing I looked to my right and could see Mr Salvador coming towards me in an aggressive manner. I tried to get up out of my chair. 

‘I could see Mr Salvador looking to throw a punch or grab me around the neck. I grabbed hold of his arm because it was coming around my neck.

‘As I grabbed hold of his arm, I went back into my chair and the momentum of myself and Mr Salvador going in the same direction, I ended up on the floor with Mr Salvador on top of me.’

Mr Docherty told how Bronson began making threats and screamed he was ‘going to bite my f***ing face off’.

He then threatened governing governor David Harding as he was dragged away by prison staff, a court heard.

The alleged attack unfolded when Bronson was taken to see the governor of Wakefield Prison

The alleged attack unfolded when Bronson was taken to see the governor of Wakefield Prison

‘His whole hand was over the side of my face and he was squashing my face,’ Mr Docherty added. ‘I could hear him say ‘I will take your f***ing eye out’.

‘I got up and could hear Mr Salvador shouting tell Mr Harding he is next.’

A jury yesterday heard Salvador attacked Mr Docherty because he blamed him for withholding photos from his wedding ceremony to Miss Williamson.

Jurors were told how Bronson had married Miss Williamson during a ceremony at HMP Wakefield in November last year, with guests being told they were not allowed to bring in electronic devices or attempt to take pictures.

The inmate was said to have been whistling the tune from The Great Escape moments before he attacked the prison governor 

The inmate was said to have been whistling the tune from The Great Escape moments before he attacked the prison governor 

But prison staff were allowed to take photos which were to be distributed to Bronson and his new wife, the court heard.

The inmate was said to have been whistling the tune from The Great Escape moments before he attacked Wakefield Prison governor Mr Docherty.

Once Mr Docherty was on the floor, Bronson shouted: ‘You can F with me but you can never F with my mother’, a court heard.

Prosecutor Carl Fitch said that, once the prisoner had been restrained, he told officers he had wanted to attack the governor since November 2017 after he ‘disrespected his wife’.

Mr Fitch said: ‘The prison would never allow these photographs to be taken outside the prison, as they feared that Ms Williamson would give them to the media if they did.

‘The Crown says that it is for that reason, among others, that Mr Salvador had a grudge against Mr Docherty, who he held responsible for the withholding of these photographs.’

As Mr Fitch took a gulp of water during the morning session, Bronson, who has served over 40 years in prison, was heard to say: ‘I hope that’s not gin.’

The trial, which is expected to conclude this week, continues.

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