Teenager threw killed off Tate Modern balcony in bid for notoriety
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council spent £12,400 in a failed bid to protect the identity of Jonty Bravery who was jailed last Friday for the attempted murder of a child.
The Press Association found out through a Freedom of Information request that they hired a number of barristers to try and keep his name out of the public domain over the course of four court hearings at the Old Bailey between August 8 and October 1 2019.
Bravery who lived in Ealing but was under the care of Hammersmith & Fulham social services was 17 at the time of the attack. He threw a six-year-old boy from the viewing gallery at the Tate Modern and has been jailed for a minimum of 15 years.
The council tried to prevent the press naming him on the basis that he was two months short of his 18th birthday when he committed the offence. He had autism and a personality disorder and was classed as a ‘looked after child’ in the care of the borough. He told the father of the child he targeted that social services were to blame for what he had done.
The court granted the request that his name not be published but the order expired as soon as he became an adult despite attempts by the council to prolong his anonymity.
In a statement, a council spokesman said, “Our sympathies go out to the child and his family following what happened at Tate Modern.
“An independent serious case review is now under way. It will look at what happened and the role played by all the different agencies involved.”
Andrew Brown, who is the leader of the opposition at Hammersmith and Fulham Council said, “It would appear that there needs to be some serious lessons learned. I would like to see the inquiry to be carried out as independently as possible – probably by another borough or an independent association.”
It emerged earlier this year that nearly a year before the incident, Bravery had said he was thinking about throwing someone off a building, such as the Shard, and going to prison. A recording of him talking about his feelings was passed to the BBC and Daily Mail. He had round-the-clock care and had been living at a flat in Northolt. The company providing care contracted by H&F denies ever hearing recording. A serious case review was due to publish its findings in September.
In passing the sentence on Bravery, Mrs Justice McGowan said that she had decided that a jail sentence was more appropriate than continued hospital detention in order to protect the public and to take account of his ‘terrible’ actions and the devastating consequences they had on his victim and his family. Although the sentence is for 15 years the judge said it was possible that Bravery would never be released and was likely to spend the greater part of his life incarcerated.
She said that, while his autism and personality disorder had an effect, his personal culpability remained high and he carefully planned and executed the attack with the apparent motivation of becoming notorious choosing a child as his victim because of their vulnerability.
Sentence was passed at the Old Bailey on 26 June after a guilty plea had been entered last December.
On Sunday, 4 August las year the child’s mother and father, who were visiting from France, had visited the Tate Modern on day out. The court was told how at 2.30pm their six-year-old boy was suddenly thrown, in front of his horrified parents and members of the public, from the tenth floor viewing platform.
Just prior to this another mother in the gallery had become aware of Bravery, who was looking towards her children.
Bravery, who was then aged 17, was on independent leave from a care home where he had been placed for mental health issues. He had conducted an internet search the previous day on killing people and the impact that an autism diagnosis might have on sentencing.
The second mother told police she thought Bravery was being polite, as he was smiling towards her and the children; but then she began to feel uneasy as he followed them around the balcony. She was so concerned she took hold of her children and Bravery moved away; moments later she heard a scream. Bravery had moved on to his victim who was just a couple of feet from his mother and father.
Without any warning or provocation, Bravery picked up the child and threw him over the edge of the viewing platform. The attack was sudden, in one movement and with great force; neither the parents nor any other visitor had a chance to stop it.
The child fell approximately 100ft to the fifth floor below. His fall was only broken at this point because the building splays outwards.
He suffered serious injuries to his head and spine and multiple fractures leaving him a critical condition for weeks. He is still recovering from his injuries.
After the attack, Bravery retreated a couple of feet away from the viewing edge and waited there, smiling and apparently unconcerned. He told the victim’s father that he was mad but what happened was not his fault but social service’s. Members of the public detained Bravery and handed him over to Tate Modern security staff, who held him until the arrival of police minutes later.
Bravery was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. The arresting officer recorded Bravery saying, “Is this going to be in the news?” and later he asked, “On a scale of one to ten, is this one of the most serious cases you have ever had?"
At his formal interview at a south London police station, Bravery said he had planned the incident for a long time, but otherwise made no comment. However, towards the end, when questioned on remarks he made to officers at the scene, he stated that he did it to “be on the news and for people to know who he was.”
He was later charged with attempted murder and was remanded in secure accommodation.
Detective Inspector Melanie Pressley from Specialist Crime, who led the investigation, said, “It is hard for anyone to comprehend how an innocent family day out could end in such a horrific manner. It is true that such acts of wickedness towards a child are incredibly rare, but as a result of that rarity, our shock and revulsion are all the greater. I am sure those members of the public who were at the gallery that day will never forget what they saw.
“We may never fully understand why Bravery carried out this terrible act, but part of the motive appears to have been a perverse desire for fame. Whatever his motive, I will never be able to comprehend how he could do such a thing. In contrast to Bravery’s terrible actions, I would like to thank all those who helped detain Bravery and then came forward to help police. I must also thank those in Victim Support, who did so much to help the family in those terrible days after the attack.
“The consequences of that day will live with this child and his family forever. They have been dignified and brave in the face of an overwhelming tragedy and I know, as they continue to care for their beloved son, they would want me to ask the media to respect their strong desire for privacy.”
The family said in the impact statement presented to the court, “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, who is now wondering why he is in hospital. How can one explain to a child that someone deliberately tried to kill him?
“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. Months of pain, fear and rehabilitation, hours and days spent without talking, without moving and without eating, away from his home, away from his friends and away from his family.
“Since mid-January, our son can eat again, which has been an important turning point for him and for us. Now that the feeding tube doesn’t bother him anymore, he can speak a little. He is obviously still very tired, speaks very little, sparing his words, and remains very weak. 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. The nights are always extremely difficult, his sleep is very agitated, he is in pain, he wakes up many times and he cries.
“Six months on from the attack, we have been living out of our home, unable to see any loved one, apart from those who come to visit our son, and unable to spend quality time with our son at Christmas; everything is constrained by his care and the hospital, as well as the recurring pain our child is suffering from.
“There are no words to express what we are going through, and even upon rereading the information provided here, we feel that it does not reflect the reality of our situation, nor the difficulties and pain we are currently experiencing.”
July 1, 2020