Charles Bronson parole hearing: Who was actress Paula Williamson who married notorious prisoner?

Paula Williamson, left, married Charles Bronson, right, in 2017. (PA/Staffordshire Police)
Actress Paula Williamson, left, married prisoner Charles Bronson, right, in 2017. (PA/Staffordshire Police)

Charles Bronson, one of the UK's longest-serving prisoners, is making a bid for freedom in a high-profile parole hearing.

The 70-year-old told a panel of Parole Board judges on Monday that he is "almost an angel now" compared with his old self.

Once dubbed one of Britain's most violent offenders, Bronson, who has changed his surname to Salvador, has spent most of the past 48 years behind bars for a string of thefts, firearms and violent offences, including 11 hostage takings.

Bronson made a number of bizarre comments during Monday's hearing, in which a lawyer for the prisoner questioned his notoriety, saying "he hasn't been convicted of murder, he's never raped anyone".

His parole review took place at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes and was watched by members of the press and public on a live stream from the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Read more: Who is Charles Bronson and why has he been in prison for so long?

The Parole Board will decide whether he should remain behind bars after the hearing, which is taking place over three days this week. A decision is due at a later date.

The hearing, which resumes on Wednesday, is shining a spotlight on Bronson's colourful past.

Bronson has been married three times. He got married to Irene Kelsey from 1971 to 1976, then to Saira Ali Ahmed from 2001 to 2005.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of notorious inmate Charles Bronson, appearing via video link from HMP Woodhill, during his public parole hearing at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London.
A court artist's sketch of Charles Bronson appearing during his public parole hearing on Monday. (PA)

His third marriage was in 2017 to actress Paula Williamson, who died two years later.

In January 2021, a coroner ruled that Williamson, 38, died from multiple drug toxicity after substances including cocaine were found in her system.

Watch: Britain's most notorious prisoner sends voice note to Sky News after begging for release

Williamson said before her death that she and Bronson had applied to have their marriage annulled.

Williamson, who played minor roles in Coronation Street and Emmerdale, met Bronson in prison in late 2016 before marrying him in November 2017 and was also known as Paula Joy Salvador.

At her inquest, Williamson was described by family in court as a “brilliant” daughter and a “lovely girl”, who was just “teetering on the edge of getting her life back in order” when she died.

Paula Williamson, the wife of prisoner Charles Bronson, stands in Downing Street, London, with a Charles Bronson look-alike, after delivering a petition to number 10, in support of her husband being released from prison.
Paula Williamson in Downing Street with a Charles Bronson lookalike after delivering a petition to Number 10 in support of her then husband being released from prison. (PA)

The inquest heard that Williamson had been out drinking with a friend the evening before she died.

When she returned from her night out, Jones said she had become “angry” at having earlier been refused entry to a nightclub in Hanley.

She went to bed at about midnight, but when Jones - who had slept on the sofa - went to check on her at 6.40am on the Monday, he found her dead in bed.

Bronson appeared from prison on a video-link at the inquest.

Paula Williamson, the wife of prisoner Charles Bronson, stands in Downing Street, London, after delivering a petition to number 10, in support of her husband being released from prison. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Actress Paula Williamson married Charles Bronson in 2017 before she died two years later. (PA Images via Getty Images)

The coroner gave Williamson’s cause of death as multiple drug toxicity but ruled out a conclusion of suicide as “there was nothing to suggest she wasn’t happy” at the time of her death.

Williamson, who appeared in TV shows Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Scott & Bailey and Emmerdale, denied the pair were getting married as a publicity stunt.

In February 2017, just after they were engaged, she told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I do know Charlie and this is the real deal.

"I'm very excited to be his fiancée because I'm in love with the man and that's God's honest truth."

They were married on 14 November 2017 after she was brought into Wakefield prison. Bronson was returned to his cell after the ceremony.