Autistic Jonty Bravery was in council care but ‘frequently assaulted’ his carers and had been arrested for attacking them, the Old Bailey heard yesterday
A six-year-old boy who was pushed off a tenth floor balcony at the Tate Modern has said that he would ‘like to slap’ his attacker, who has been allowed out alone despite a history of violence and being on anti-psychotic drugs.
Autistic Jonty Bravery was in council care but ‘frequently assaulted’ his carers and had been arrested for attacking them, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.
Yet he was considered safe to go out by himself on a day trip to London, where he hurled the French schoolboy off a 100ft balcony and then smirked to the youngster’s distraught father: ‘I’m mad.’
The boy nearly died and remains crippled and brain damaged.
Yesterday the court heard how the warped 17-year-old had plotted to kill – and laughed afterwards, asking staff at London’s Tate gallery ‘Am I a murderer?’, and even checking if he would be on TV for the ‘fame and notoriety’. Bravery, now 18 – appearing via a video link from Broadmoor Hospital – sat twitching in a chair as the court heard his ‘unspeakable act’ had wrecked the lives of the boy and his family.
Dressed in shorts and a white t-shirt – sometimes pulled over his head – at one point he curled himself into a ball on the floor as he heard the parents say in a statement: ‘Our life is in ruins.’
The couple said that their son would forever see ‘every stranger as a villain who will cause him immense pain and suffering’. They added: ‘He told a nurse he would like to slap the man who did this to him.’
The Old Bailey was told about a ‘shocking, prophetic’ audio recording of Bravery confessing his murderous plans.
The chilling recording – in which Bravery vowed to his carers almost a year in advance that he would ‘push somebody off’ a tall building – was revealed by the Daily Mail in February.
This newspaper’s shocking investigation into the Tate incident discovered that the private care company hired by Hammersmith and Fulham council to look after Bravery at his flat had disastrously relaxed his ‘one-on-one’ supervision.
Yesterday the Old Bailey was told by prosecutor Deanna Heer: ‘He frequently assaulted staff. He lashed out every six weeks or so.’
In 2017 he was cautioned for common assault when he hit a carer in the chest with a cutlery knife and slapped her face, she said.
Then, four months before the Tate incident, he was arrested for punching another care worker on a trip to Burger King.
By August, he ‘was on a low dose of anti-psychotic medication’ yet ‘was allowed out unaccompanied for four-hour periods’, said Miss Heer.
Bravery – who the court heard laughed in his police interview when shown CCTV video of the little boy plunging head-first – has pleaded guilty to attempted murder. Yesterday’s sentencing hearing will conclude today.
Philippa McAtasney QC, for Bravery, said nothing would detract from the ‘appalling nature of this crime’. She said his ‘callous remarks, lacking remorse’ in the aftermath of the incident should be viewed as part of his mental health disorder.
Of her client, she added: ‘The likelihood is this young man is unlikely ever to be released.’
Dr Joanna Dow, a senior consultant forensic psychiatrist at Broadmoor Hospital, recommended Bravery be detained in hospital, rather than handed a prison sentence.
But another psychiatrist, Dr Nigel Blackwood, said he favoured a prison sentence – with a transfer to hospital if jail did ‘not appear to be working’. Mrs Justice McGowan will hand down her sentence today. She said: ‘Whatever happens, it will be for a very long time.’
Are you mad, boy’s father asked him. Yes I am, he smiled. Have I killed someone?
by Sam Greenhill for the Daily Mail
Jonty Bravery went to London that day to kill – he didn’t care who. After the full horrific sequence of events was made public for the first time at the Old Bailey yesterday, SAM GREENHILL reconstructs a day of chilling, senseless violence.
When the French boy was hurled off the Tate Modern, his shell-shocked father confronted Jonty Bravery and stuttered: ‘Are you mad?’
‘Yes, I am mad,’ the teenager calmly replied. As the little boy lay twisted and broken after his 100ft fall, his mother became hysterical with the stocky teenager, who just looked at her with ‘a big smile on his face’.
The six-year old boy was seriously injured after he was thrown from the viewing platform of the Tate Modern art gallery in London (pictured)
Moments earlier, the French couple’s six-year-old son had been ‘skipping’ happily a yard or two in front of them as they enjoyed the views from the art gallery’s viewing tower.
Bravery suddenly scooped him up, carried him to the balcony and threw him over the edge, then coolly asked: ‘Have I killed someone? Am I a murderer?’
It could have been any family. Bravery went to London that day to kill.
First, he hunted for a victim at The Shard, the tallest structure in Britain, but when he found the entry ticket was too expensive he asked for directions to the ‘next highest building’.
A passer-by pointed him to the Tate Modern, where 17-year-old Bravery began prowling round after children at the top of the gallery’s viewing tower. He began stalking two boys aged eight and 11, to the alarm of their mothers, before alighting on the French boy, who was on day four of his family summer holiday to London.
How can you tell a child that someone tried to kill him? All our lives are in ruins
The act committed by this individual against our son is unspeakable.
Words cannot express the horror and the fear that his actions have brought upon us and our son. How can one explain to a child that someone deliberately tried to kill him?
How can he now ever trust mankind? How can he not see in every stranger a potential ‘villain’ who could cause him immense pain and suffering? Months of pain, fear and physiotherapy, hours and days spent without talking, without moving and without eating, away from his home, away from his friends and away from his family…
Questions about his future and his health remain unanswered, as well as these questions: ‘Will I be able to walk again?’, ‘When are we going home?’, ‘Will I go back to school, see my friends again?’
What has our life become since the attempted murder of our six-year-old son? After going through the fear of losing him, and being unable to comprehend this gratuitous and senseless act, we are now faced with numerous psychological and material problems. Our life is in ruins. Since the day of the attack, we have not left our son’s side, following him to all the various hospitals where he has been treated. We spend our days in hospital with our son. Either one of us, or his grandmother, spends the night with him in his room on a camp bed or even a chair.
He is still in a wheelchair today, wears splints on his left arm and both of his legs, and spends his days in a corset moulded to his waist, sat in his wheelchair. He is in permanent restraint…
The nights are always extremely difficult, his sleep is very agitated, he is in pain, he wakes up many times and he cries. We have been so scared of losing him that now it is physically impossible for us to be apart from him more than a few hours, and only when we know a family member is with him…
He said to a psychiatric nurse who asked him about it that he would like to ‘slap’ the man who did this to him. We are extremely worried about the future. From what the doctors said, he has many years of physiotherapy ahead of him, and we have no prospects or plans for the future other than being by his side.
Our son is alive. He is fighting. And that’s all that matters to us. What happened on the roof of the Tate Modern that day is unforgivable.
The full horrific sequence of events was made public for the first time yesterday at the Old Bailey. Bravery – who has autism and a personality disorder – had plotted his murderous plan far in advance.
THE MURDEROUS PLOT
On the morning of Sunday August 4, last year, Bravery set off alone from his flat in Northolt, North-West London, and bought an Oyster travel card at 12.15pm to take the train to London Bridge, arriving at 1.15pm. He strolled to The Shard and asked a ticket seller the price of going up. He baulked at the £34 cost and walked off.
Prosecutor Deanna Heer said he asked a member of the public ‘where the next highest building was’. At the Tate Modern’s ten-storey viewing platform – which is free – CCTV images showed Bravery mingling with sightseers at 2.15pm.
Miss Heer said: ‘Some noticed [him] because he was behaving in an unusual way, walking close to the railings around the balcony, looking over the railings, so he was aware of the size of the drop at that point.’
Bravery remarked to a visitor called Carol Hunter that ‘it was a long way down and he had vertigo and he wouldn’t want to fall off’, said the prosecutor. Miss Hunter thought it was an odd comment and walked away.
Then he turned his attention to two women, Rose Harwood and Nancy Barnfield, and their sons aged 11 and eight. Bravery leant on the balcony and leered at them as they took photos of the views.
‘According to them, he looked relaxed. He smiled at them, but they soon noticed he was following them and staring at their children. They felt uneasy, until he moved away,’ Miss Heer told the court.
STALKING HIS PREY
By now it was 2.32pm, and the six-year-old French boy and his family had just arrived on the viewing deck, having enjoyed a picnic lunch by the river on the South Bank.
They were on a week-long holiday and had planned a full day enjoying London’s sights.
CCTV showed Bravery switching his attention away from Miss Barnfield’s group. The prosecutor said: ‘As they turned away from the railings and walked along the balcony, [the boy] wearing a blue t-shirt and shorts skipped a little way ahead.
‘Ahead of him and facing him was the defendant, who scooped him up and – without any hesitation – carried him straight to the railings and threw him over.’
The child plunged head-first down the tower’s sloping side –which slightly slowed his fall –and landed in a crumpled heap on the fifth-floor roof of the main part of the gallery.
The court heard he had smashed his head, was bleeding heavily and had broken his arms, legs, and hips, and his right ankle was ‘almost detached’.
A FAMILY’S HORROR
There are harrowing CCTV images – which were not shown in court – of the boy’s parents’ utter ‘disbelief and rising panic at what they had seen’, said Miss Heer.
Bravery ‘could be seen to be smiling, he had his arms raised’, and ‘at one point he appeared to shrug and laugh’.
The father thought it was somehow just a joke, said Miss Heer, ‘but when he saw his son’s distorted body lying below, he ask [Bravery] if he was mad. He replied: ‘Yes, I am mad’.’
The prosecutor said the distraught father then ‘lashed out’ at Bravery, before the mother became ‘hysterical’, adding: ‘She said he had a big smile on his face as he spoke to her.’
Bravery (left and right in a court sketch) threw the six-year-old boy from a tenth-floor balcony at the Tate Modern in London
The mother tried to clamber over the railings to reach her son, and had to be dragged back by her husband and members of the public.
The couple made their way down the stairs to the boy, who was still breathing. His father held his hand until medics arrived. He was airlifted to the Royal London Hospital.
Witnesses on the viewing deck were struck by Bravery’s ‘calmness and lack of emotion at the chaos about him’.
Miss Heer said: ‘He seemed unbothered. Miss Barnfield says he showed no reaction at all.
She became hysterical and grabbed her children and took them inside. Someone shouted at him, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ and he replied ‘Yes’, with a snigger.’
He told onlookers: ‘It’s a long story. It’s not my fault. It’s social services’ fault.’ He asked a policeman if ‘on scale of one to ten’, it was the most serious incident he had ever dealt with.
During his police interview, the next day, Bravery claimed he had heard ‘voices’ telling him to kill, but he later admitted making this up. Shown a CCTV video of the atrocity, Bravery laughed as it played.
The prosecutor said: ‘He said he had to prove a point to every idiot who said he did not have a mental health problem.
‘He said he had been planning the thing for a long time. He wanted it to be on the news because he wanted everyone including his parents to see what a mistake they had made in not putting him in hospital.’
A court sketch showing Jonty Bravery appearing at the Old Bailey via video link today. At one point in the hearing, Bravery left his chair and faced the wall
The victim, visiting the London museum with his French family, plunged 100ft on to a roof five floors below (pictured, the aftermath)
The court heard that just hours before the attack, Bravery had used his iPad to conduct Google searches including: ‘If I have autism can I still go prison for attempted murder?’ and ‘Which is more likely to cause death – pushing a girl into River Thames or shooting a girl in the stomach?’ He had also googled ‘How to get to The Shard’.
He told forensic psychiatrist Dr Joanna Dow at Broadmoor Hospital he had plotted three possible ways to get himself into a mental hospital: strangling a woman or child, drowning a child, or throwing someone from a tall building.
He told another psychiatrist, Dr Nigel Blackwood, he was ‘disappointed’ he had not managed to kill the French boy.
Bravery has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a personality disorder.
A psychiatric report found ‘his callousness and the striking lack of emotional empathy is not typical of autism but is more typically found in psychopathy’.