Jonty Bravery has been jailed for at least 15 years for attempted murder when he threw a six-year-old boy from the Tate Modern viewing gantry
A mentally ill and violent teenager who threw a six-year-old boy from the Tate Modern viewing gantry has been jailed for at least 15 years for attempted murder.
Jonty Bravery, now 18, was said to have had ‘a big smile on his face’ when he was challenged by horrified onlookers – including the victim’s distraught and disbelieving parents – moments after hurling the young tourist over the railings.
Bravery executed his planned attack when he was allowed on an unsupervised trip to the art gallery.
The victim, a French boy, survived the 100ft fall, but suffered life-changing injuries – including a bleed on the brain and multiple broken bones – and remains in a wheelchair. He will require round-the-clock care support until at least 2022.
Sentencing Bravery, of Ealing in west London, Old Bailey judge Mrs Justice McGowan said: ‘The fear he (the victim) must have experienced and the horror his parents felt are beyond imagination.
‘You had intended to kill someone that day – you almost killed that six-year-old boy.’
She said Bravery’s autism spectrum disorder (ASD) did not explain the attack, and acknowledged expert evidence he presents ‘a grave and immediate risk to the public’.
The judge added: ‘You will spend the greater part – if not all – of your life detained … you may never be released.’
Crews scramble to the Tate where a six-year-old French boy was hurled from the balcony
Well-built Bravery, who was wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts, sat impassively with his legs crossed and occasionally placed his hands behind his head as he watched the 20-minute hearing via videolink from Broadmoor Hospital.
The court heard Bravery had been in supported accommodation under the care of Hammersmith and Fulham Social Services, with one-to-one supervision, and had a history of lashing out at staff.
Despite this, he was allowed to leave home, unsupervised, for up to four hours at a time.
Prosecutor Deanna Heer said there was evidence Bravery had long harboured his intent to seriously hurt or kill someone, with the teenager’s admissions apparently caught on a ‘shocking, prophetic’ secret recording made by carers. The alarm was not raised with Bravery’s parents.
It was on Sunday August 4, 2019 that Bravery – who has a mental disorder – left his accommodation and travelled to the Tate Modern in central London, spending at least 15 minutes stalking potential victims before ‘scooping’ a six-year-old boy up and over the railings as the youngster skipped slightly ahead of his family.
Emergency crews attending a scene at the Tate Modern art gallery on Augus 4, 2019
CCTV footage not shown in court captured the incident, then showed Bravery backing away from the railings.
The prosecutor said: ‘He can be seen to be smiling, with his arms raised. At one point, he appears to shrug and laugh.’
Ms Heer told the court Bravery then told the boy’s father: ‘Yes I am mad.’
He was also heard to say, with a shrug: ‘It’s not my fault, it’s social services’ fault,’ the lawyer said.
It later emerged that Bravery initially sought to carry out his grim attack at the Shard, Britain’s tallest building, but baulked at the entry fee.
Following his arrest, Bravery was said to have asked police if he was going to be ‘on the news’.
He said he had been ‘seriously unhappy’ recently and that he had to do anything he could to get out of his accommodation.
Bravery admitted attempted murder at the Old Bailey last December.
Ms Heer told the court: ‘He said he had to prove a point to ‘every idiot’ who had ever said he did not have a mental health problem that he should not be in the community.’
Bravery later disclosed to a psychiatrist that he planned the offence well in advance and researched the easiest way to kill someone, narrowing it down to three possibilities – strangling a woman or a child, drowning a child, or throwing someone off a tall building.
Defence counsel Philippa McAtasney QC said her client was immature, and said it ‘beggars belief’ that he was deemed suitable to go out unsupervised.
She said Bravery’s parent’s ‘abhor’ what he did and cannot forgive him, but feel ‘let down by the system’.
In a victim impact statement taken in February, the boy’s parents described Bravery’s actions as ‘unspeakable’.
The couple, who have now returned with their son to their native France, said: ‘Words cannot express the horror and fear his actions have brought up on us and our son who now, six months on, is wondering why he’s in hospital.
‘How can he not see in every stranger a potential ‘villain’ who could cause him immense pain and suffering?’
No members of the victim’s or Bravery’s family were present in court for the sentencing.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council said a serious case review had been ordered.
Jonty Bravery: An erratic and violent teenager with murder in his sights
On August 3, 2019, Jonty Bravery woke and did what many other teenagers were doing. He surfed the internet.
Yet the searches he made that day, and again the following morning, would offer a grim glimpse into the atrocity the then-17-year-old appeared determined to commit.
‘Guaranteed ways to go to jail’, was one search.
‘Where can I buy sulphuric acid in Northolt?’ was another.
A few months earlier, a trawl through his iPad history apparently disclosed an unhealthy interest in macabre ways of causing wanton harm to strangers.
He visited a web page entitled: ‘How to get away with rape’, and a news article with the headline: ‘CCTV footage shows tube push murder attempt.’
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
Bravery would later disclose to a psychiatrist he had researched the easiest way to kill someone.
The Old Bailey heard he subsequently narrowed it down to three possibilities: strangling a woman or a child, drowning a child, or throwing someone off a tall building.
On August 4 2019, his twisted fantasy very nearly became a reality.
He researched the tallest building in London – the Shard – and headed there shortly after midday.
Put off by the entry fee, he instead sought out an alternative.
Witnesses at the Tate Modern viewing platform reported concerns about Bravery’s odd behaviour.
He found his target – a six-year-old French boy – around 15 minutes later and threw him over the edge. Miraculously the boy survived, but with life-changing injuries.
Confronted by horrified members of the public including the victim’s parents – distraught and disbelieving in equal measure – Bravery sought to deflect blame onto social services.
The air ambulance arrives at the Tate Modern after Bravery carried out the attack he had warned his carers about – and admitted it was part of a warped plot to get back his iPad
It was their fault he did this, Bravery would say. He said he felt failed and needed to be arrested because he had not been given the correct treatment for his condition.
Bravery was five years old when he was diagnosed with autism, and was said in court to have a mental disorder which contributed to him committing the violent atrocity.
He was living in supported accommodation in Northolt, West London, at the time he struck, and had a history of violence against staff.
In April 2019, Bravery punched a care worker and a member of Burker King restaurant staff whilst on a supervised trip to Brighton.
Following his arrest, he assaulted a custody officer and urinated in the waiting room.
That August, after his detention at the Tate Modern, Bravery told police he ‘wanted to be on the news so that everyone, especially his parents, could see what a mistake they had made by not putting him in hospital’.
His father, Piers Bravery, attempted to raise awareness of autism and its treatment in a series of social media posts which have since been deleted.
In one tweet to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, posted less than three months before the attack, Mr Bravery said: ‘Yes, @MattHancock, you do have a duty. You are a public servant so do your job and stop more children dying and being abused in these repugnant institutions.’
The Old Bailey heard his parents ‘abhor’ what their son did and cannot forgive him, but feel ‘let down by the system’.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has ordered a serious case review.
Parent’s heartbreaking statement: 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.