Actress who married notorious prisoner Charles Bronson 'died of drug overdose'

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4 min read
Paula Williamson, left, married Charles Bronson, right, in 2017. (PA/Staffordshire Police)
Paula Williamson, left, married Charles Bronson, right, in 2017. (PA/Staffordshire Police)

An actress who was married to notorious prisoner Charles Bronson died from multiple drug toxicity after substances including cocaine were found in her system, a coroner has concluded.

Paula Williamson, 38, was found at home by her partner in Stoke on 29 July 2019.

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

Read more: Eight facts you didn't know about Britain's most notorious prisoner

Her then-husband is one of Britain’s longest-serving prisoners, and has been behind bars for most of the last 45 years, much of it in solitary confinement or specialist units.

Bronson, who changed his name to Charles Salvador – after the artist Salvador Dali – in 2013 was given a discretionary life term with a minimum of four years for taking a prison teacher hostage in HMP Hull for 44 hours.

He was first jailed in 1974, aged 22, for an armed robbery on a Post Office.

He has described himself in court as having been a “very nasty man” in the past and said he has held 11 different hostages in prison.

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 stands in Downing Street with a Charles Bronson look-alike, after delivering a petition to Number 10 in support of her husband being released from prison. (PA)

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.

Ms Williamson was described by family in court on Wednesday 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.

She had suffered with mental health issues and had previously made two suicide attempts in previous years, but had lately found happiness with Mr Jones, who she had described as her “angel”, the court heard.

The inquest was told how on the Sunday evening before her death, Ms Williamson had been out drinking with a friend, while her partner Mr Jones had stayed at their home.

When she returned from her night out, Mr Jones said she had become “angry” at having earlier been refused entry to a nightclub in Hanley by a doorman, for being too drunk.

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.
Paula Williamson and Bronson had planned on divorcing, she said. (PA)

There was then what he described as “a slight episode” at the house where she took up a knife and spoke of going to get the bouncer, however Mr Jones “calmed” her down and she eventually went to bed at around midnight.

However, when Mr Jones – who had slept on the sofa to leave her in peace – went to check on her at 6.40am on the Monday, he found her lifeless on her back, in the bed, and dialled 999.

There were signs she had vomited and close by were two white self-seal bags; one containing cocaine, the other empty but having also had cocaine inside.

A toxicology report found traces of the drug as well as alcohol and other prescription medication in her system.

Bronson – now known as Charles Salvador – appeared on a video-link for the hearing, wearing a stripy top, as next-of-kin to Ms Williamson.

Asked by the coroner if he had any questions, he said: “First of all, respect for the dignified way Paula’s mum has handled the situation.

“As far as I am concerned, there should be two scumbags in this courtroom; the person who gave her the drugs, and the other; the geezer in her house, who reported it, and should have been looking after her.”

He added: “I’d like to know why the police haven’t investigated the scumbag who’s given her the drugs in the first place.

“Because if I was on the outside, I would have his name and address within 24 hours.”

The coroner heard evidence that it was unclear when and from whom Ms Williamson had sourced the cocaine, and that on her night out she had spoken of wanting to take some.

Miss Serrano also heard the actress was on prescription medication including sedatives and had traces of a powerful painkiller in her blood.

The coroner gave Ms 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.

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