‘Charles Bronson sends me Christmas cards and must be released’ says ex-gangster

One of Britain’s most notorious gangsters, who turned his life around to become a successful author and businessman, has said that the UK’s longest-serving prisoner, Charles Bronson, should be released.

Stephen Gillen, who spent time inside with Bronson, now known as Charles Salvador, said the 70-year-old convict “still sends me Christmas cards”.

Bronson has been in detention for almost 50 years, with brief periods on the outside.

Gillen, 52, who served a 17-year stretch for firing at a police officer as well as a number of shorter sentences, told that he knew Bronson from his time in prison.

“I was in the high security dispersal prisons all the way through. There was a lot of gang stuff in there. I done (sic) about four-and-a-half to five years [of] solitary confinement. I was in Hull, I was in Woodhill Closed Supervision Unit with people like Charlie Bronson.

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“I knew him very very well, he still sends me Christmas cards and things like that.

He added: “All the notorious people of the day I knew very well.”

Gillen, who was thrown into a life of crime as a teenager, after being brought up in the harsh world of London’s foster system, is now a “reformed” motivational speaker, author of The Monkey Puzzle Tree, the subject of a movie currently in production and was even nominated for the Sunhak Peace Prize – an international award that celebrates people that have contributed to human development and peace.

He said Bronson deserved to be released but that he hadn’t helped himself with his image.

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Gillen explained: “Charlie has been positioned and positioned himself as something, in many ways, that he’s not.

“It hasn’t done him any favours. Of course the prison system is filled with really really dangerous prisoners. Is Charlie the most dangerous? Of course he’s not. I wouldn’t say so, you know, that’s a fact.”

Gillen also had plenty to say about the recent documentary ‘Bronson: Fit to be Free?’ which aired on Channel 4 earlier this year, ahead of a landmark parole hearing that could have seen him released.

Gillen said of the programme: “I was very very happy I wasn’t involved in that. I certainly think that didn’t do him any favours.

He added that “the way it was portrayed, the way it was engineered and portrayed” presented Bronson as far more threatening a character than he actually is.

He also explained the circumstances in which Bronson should be released: “Yes he absolutely should be let out. One of the problems with Charlie is the prison service treatment of him is a paradox because he’s still been in cages and units and all that. 

“So for him to have a chance at release they need to facilitate that in a planned way, that gives him a chance and society a chance for him to integrate into society and they haven’t been forthcoming in that.”

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