Charles Bronson’s ex-wife Paula Williamson is laid to rest

Friends and family of Charles Bronson’s ex-wife Paula Williamson dress in pink and carry tins of cat food as they attend the former Coronation Street actress’s funeral on what would have been her 39th birthday

  • Paula Williamson was laid to rest today at a church in Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent on her 39th birthday
  • Mourners were told to wear pink for the funeral and family have asked for donations to a cat charity
  • The service comes three weeks after the former Coronation Street actress was found dead at her home
  • Charles Bronson, who has been in prison for 44 years, said he would not be attending as it is a ‘private affair’ 

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Family and friends of Charles Bronson’s ex wife Paula Williamson arrived at her funeral today dressed in pink and carrying tins of cat food.

The former Coronation Street actress is being laid to rest on what would have been her 39th birthday at St Saviour’s Church, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Ms Williamson died after she was found unconscious at her home on her bed next to two bags of ‘white powder.’ 

Bronson – who has been behind bars for the past 44 years – was not at the ceremony, confirming in a letter to a friend that he said he thought ‘it should be a private affair.’

He was not mentioned once during the ceremony, with friends and family only making reference to her love of ‘odd characters’ and ‘eyebrow-raising decisions’ over the past few years.    

Family and friends of Charles Bronson's ex wife Paula Williamson arrived at her funeral today dressed in pink and carrying tins of cat food

Family and friends of Charles Bronson’s ex wife Paula Williamson arrived at her funeral today dressed in pink and carrying tins of cat food

The former Coronation Street actress is being laid to rest on what would have been her 39th birthday at St Saviour's Church, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent

The former Coronation Street actress is being laid to rest on what would have been her 39th birthday at St Saviour’s Church, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent

Guests could be seen arriving today with boxes and tins of cat food

An order of service for today's funeral being held in Stoke-on-Trent. Ms Williamson was found dead on July 29

Ms Williamson’s family asked mourners (left, arriving today) to wear a ‘splash of pink – her favourite colour – and donations in her memory will go to either the RSPCA or charity Iris’s Cats In Need. An order of service for today’s funeral (right)

Mourners dressed in pink watch the horse drawn carriage carrying Paula's body arrive at the service today

Mourners dressed in pink watch the horse drawn carriage carrying Paula’s body arrive at the service today

Her family asked mourners to wear a ‘splash of pink – her favourite colour – and donations in her memory will go to either the RSPCA or charity Iris’s Cats In Need.

It is reported that she had given her mother Hazel instructions for her funeral, saying she wanted an open casket and for her coffin to be taken to the crematorium in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Her spokesman said: ‘A post-mortem has been conducted on her body and it has now been released to her family for her funeral.

‘The funeral itself will be as flamboyant as her life was. She had many ups and downs but we’ll be there to celebrate her life.’

In a letter to a friend Bronson broke his silence on her death, saying he was ‘truly shocked’ but had decided he would not be attending the service.

He wrote: ‘A funeral should be a private thing and my presence there would only turn it into a media circus and I’m sure her family and friends don’t want that.’ 

Pallbearers carry Paula's coffin from the carriage into the church today

Pallbearers carry Paula’s coffin from the carriage into the church today

It is reported that she had given her mother Hazel instructions for her funeral, saying she wanted an open casket and for her coffin to be taken to the crematorium in a horse-drawn carriage

It is reported that she had given her mother Hazel instructions for her funeral, saying she wanted an open casket and for her coffin to be taken to the crematorium in a horse-drawn carriage

Ms Williamson, who said last month she and Mr Bronson had applied to have their marriage annulled, had played minor roles in Coronation Street and Emmerdale. 

She met the notorious criminal in prison in late 2016, and they were married in November 2017. 

At an inquest opening earlier this month, it was heard that Williamson – also known as Paula Joy Salvador – had a previous history of ‘anxiety and depression’ and been through ‘detox’ last year.

Staffordshire Police had previously confirmed the death was not suspicious. 

Miss Williamson married Britain’s most violent prisoner at HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, with Bronson handcuffed to the warder for two hours during the ceremony.

Ms Williamson (left) married Britain's most violent prisoner at HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, with Bronson handcuffed to the warder for two hours during the ceremony

Charles Bronson has been in jail for the past 44 years

Ms Williamson (left) married Britain’s most violent prisoner (right) at HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, with Bronson handcuffed to the warder for two hours during the ceremony

The funeral was held for Ms Williamson today at St Saviour's Church, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent (pictured). It comes three weeks after she was found unconscious at her home on her bed next to two bags of 'white powder'

The funeral was held for Ms Williamson today at St Saviour’s Church, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent (pictured). It comes three weeks after she was found unconscious at her home on her bed next to two bags of ‘white powder’

But their relationship quickly fell apart and Bronson, 66, was left outraged by a photograph of the actress with a man’s head in her breasts on holiday in Tenerife. 

The couple’s marriage was set to be annulled in June, a process that normally takes two weeks, but it is not clear if it went through before her death. 

The marriage was never consummated, and unions in England and Wales are allowed to be annulled if newlyweds have not had sex since tying the knot. 

Williamson’s death came on the same day Bronson announced he wanted to marry a pensioner called Joan when he is released from prison.   

Bronson is one of the country’s most notorious prisoners and has spent the majority of the past four decades imprisoned for a series of violent crimes.

Paula (pictured) was found dead next two two bags of 'white powder'

Charles Bronson, pictured in June 2001

Paula (pictured, left), the Coronation Street actress who is the ex-wife of notorious prisoner Charles Bronson (right), died after in her home town of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

In recent years he has turned his hand to art and changed his surname from Bronson to Salvador in tribute to the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

He first struck up a relationship with Miss Williamson, who also had roles in Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, in 2013 after they started writing to one another.

Bronson had previously said he wanted to have children with Miss Williamson, claiming he would be the ‘best dad in the world’.

He was first locked up for armed robbery in 1974, but during his time inside he has taken hostages in ten prison sieges and attacked at least 20 prison officers.

Last November he was cleared of trying to seriously harm a prison governor after being accused of threatening to gouge the man’s eyes out at HMP Wakefield.  

Life and times of Charlie Bronson, the man dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous prisoner’

Pictured: Charles Bronson

Pictured: Charles Bronson  

Charles Bronson, whose original name was Michael Gordon Peterson, was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1952.

From a young age Bronson indulged in petty crime, joining a gang of four robbers at the age of 13.

He was given a number of suspended sentences and reprimands until he was first sent to jail for armed robbery in 1974 for seven years aged 22.

While in Walton Gaol, he randomly attacked two prisoners and was sent to Hull the following year.

In the next few years, Bronson continued to attack other inmates, adding months to his sentence and being switched between prisons.

At HMP Wandsworth, he tried to poison another prisoner, leading to him being sent to Parkhurst psychiatric facility where he befriended the infamous Kray twins. 

He even described the pair, who ruled the East End of London with their gang during the 1950s and 1960s, as ‘the best two guys I’ve ever met’.

Again, he continued to attack other prisoners, threaten police officers, took people hostage and even attempted suicide as he was moved from prison to prison.

In 1982, he performed a rooftop protest at Broadmoor, removing tiles from the top of the building. He took part in a number of protests over the years, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.

He was released in 1987, and began boxing in the East End of London, changing his name to Charles Bronson after the actor.

After just 69 days of freedom, he was once again jailed for armed robbery for seven years in 1988. 

In 1989, he created a spear out of a broken bottle and a broom handle and ran riot in the nude. 

Three years later, he was released – this time lasting 53 days outside jail. He was arrested for conspiracy to rob.

In 1993, he took a librarian hostage and asked police to get him a cup of tea, a helicopter, and an inflatable doll.

Three years later, he took two Iraqi prisoners hostage in Belmarsh, demanding a plane, sub-machine guns and ice cream from police negotiators before releasing them.

He was handed a life sentence in 1999 for taking Phil Danielson hostage and trashing the prison in a 44-hour long siege.  

In 2001, he married Fatema Saira Rehman, and converted to Islam, demanding to be known as Charles Ali Ahmed. After they divorced four years later, he renounced the religion.

In 2014, he changed his name to Charles Salvador, after Salvador Dali.  

Bronson and Paula Williamson met in 2016, and Bronson later proposed to her in 2017 by serenading her a version of the Frank Sinatra classic My Way, from a prison pay phone.

They married in November 2017, and walked down the aisle to the Death March. They had their marriage annulled in June 2019.

In total, Bronson has taken hostages in ten prison sieges and attacked at least 20 prison officers. 

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