Charles Bronson held staff hostage for me and I saw Rose West & Myra Hindley’s ‘love’ blossom in jail, says Linda Calvey


NOT many people can say they’ve been forced to regularly wash the hair of “the most hated woman in Britain” – but Linda Calvey can.

After she was convicted of killing her lover Ronnie Cook in 1990 – a crime she insists to this day she didn’t commit – the former gangster was sent down for almost 16 years.

Linda Calvey speaks exclusively to The Sun about her 16 years in prison for murder

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Linda Calvey speaks exclusively to The Sun about her 16 years in prison for murderCredit: Rex
Linda went to jail for murdering her lover Ronnie Cook

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Linda went to jail for murdering her lover Ronnie Cook

During this time she was moved between 14 different prisons, often surrounded by child molesters, paedophiles and killers – some of whom took a shine to her.

Linda, now 75, claims she was proposed to by not one but two of the most notorious criminals of all time. Charles Bronson even held prison staff hostage at one stage in a bid to get her released.

She was finally freed from jail in 2008, after getting engaged to her third husband who she met on day release.

Linda, who now lives a much quieter life in Chigwell, Essex tells The Sun: “It was wonderful, I was going out to a totally new life.

“When you drive away for that last time and you just think, ‘I can go home now and have a cup of tea when I like, have what I want to eat when I like, be with my family and my children and just phone people and chat.’ It’s such a lovely feeling.”

Linda was first sent to prison for armed robbery in 1986 and served three-and-a-half years, mainly in Holloway.

But 18 months after she was released in 1989, a jury found her guilty of paying criminal associate Danny Reece £10,000 to kill Ronnie, with him firing the first shot, and her firing the second.

Her record saw her sent to HMP Durham – where the highest level of security prisoners were caged, including child murderer Myra Hindley.

She and partner Ian Brady killed five children in the Manchester area between 1963 and 1965, burying them on the Moors.

Linda already knew Myra, having been at Holloway with her during her first prison stint, and previously told how she slapped her on their first meeting.

Cops dig for Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett as ‘skull’ found 58 years after Ian Brady & Myra Hindley killing spree

In Durham she says she was forced to keep Hindley company twice a month, washing and dyeing her hair for her and making polite conversation – which she did through gritted teeth.

“I found every second in her company to be painful and abhorrent,” Linda says. “She is evil. It radiates off her. 

“Just being in her company set my teeth on edge, and I had to keep reminding myself I have to be here or it won’t look good for me.”

Killer ‘romance’

At one point serial killer Rose West was also in Durham on remand, and Linda says she became “bosom buddies” with Hindley.

She describes how they would sit be with each other constantly, “eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together, taking their tea breaks together, walking around the exercise yard together, their heads together, chatting and smiling”.

Linda was forced to regularly look after child killer Myra Hindley (left), whom she claims had an abrupt romance with Rose West (right)

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Linda was forced to regularly look after child killer Myra Hindley (left), whom she claims had an abrupt romance with Rose West (right)

Rumours of a romance went around the prison, but within a month their relationship ended abruptly.

“They never spoke again,” says Linda, despite the fact there were only 20 prisoners in Durham. “It was really weird.”

Proposals from criminals

Linda wasn’t short of admirers while inside. She says Charles Bronson regularly wrote to her and proposed multiple times, calling her ‘Black Rose’.

Despite Linda not responding, he once called her to say he’d held the wing officer hostage for her.

“I’ve told them they’ve got to set you free, and I’m not lettin’ them go until you’re released,” he said.

Linda told him to let them go, and he received solitary confinement “for a few months”.

Charles Bronson held staff hostage for Linda in order to set her free

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Charles Bronson held staff hostage for Linda in order to set her free
Reggie Kray (left) regularly called Linda and proposed to her

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Reggie Kray (left) regularly called Linda and proposed to herCredit: Getty

Having grown up streets away from the Kray Twins, who were serving life imprisonment for organised crime, Linda also received regular calls from Reggie Kray.

She says he too proposed to her over the phone, but then told her to “forget he’d said anything” when she politely turned him down.

Bizarrely, Linda married Danny – the man who’d shot her lover Ronnie – a month later.

Danny had been making regular visits to Linda for a year to work on their case to try to appeal, and in 1995 he’d suggested they get married.

“That way we can carry on with visits and work on our case, and they won’t be able to stop us,” he’d told her.

Linda’s mum told her not to marry him, as it would make her look more guilty, but she went through with it as the prison girls were all excited at the prospect of a wedding.

“There were no romantic feelings, it was just to continue the visits,” she insists.

Doomed prison wedding

Linda with her first husband, armed robber Mickey Calvey

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Linda with her first husband, armed robber Mickey CalveyCredit: Supplied
Linda wore her daughter Melanie's wedding dress for her prison wedding

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Linda wore her daughter Melanie’s wedding dress for her prison weddingCredit: Supplied

Linda’s daughter Melanie loaned her mum her wedding dress to wear, having got married herself not long before – a day Linda missed due to being in prison.

“I was helped into Mel’s dress, feeling like a child going to a party dressed as a princess,” Linda recalls.

The ceremony was held in Durham’s chapel. Linda had two bridesmaids – both convicted of murder – who dressed in black, a nod to her ‘Black Widow’ nickname.

At the reception they had non-alcoholic fizz, cakes and sandwiches.

Linda and Danny’s marriage didn’t entitle them to conjugal visits, but they were able to continue seeing each other three times a month to discuss their case.

But her mum was right – their marriage was splashed all over the papers, and made them look even more guilty.

“It was the worst thing we could have ever done,” she says. They eventually divorced.

Third time lucky

Linda with George, her late third husband

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Linda with George, her late third husbandCredit: Supplied

In 2008, while on day release, Linda met her third husband, businessman George Ceasar.

They got chatting in a restaurant, but it soon became awkward when he asked her out on a date.

She chuckles: “I told him ‘I can only see you on a Sunday lunchtime, because I’m in prison’. He said, ‘You can’t be in there for anything serious if you’re allowed out for lunch on Sundays?’”

Linda waited to see if he’d turn up to the prison to pick her up the following Sunday, before telling him the truth.

Sure enough, he did – in a red Rolls Royce.

I told George, ‘I can only see you on a Sunday lunchtime, because I’m in prison’. He said, ‘You can’t be in there for anything serious if you’re allowed out for lunch on Sundays?’

Linda Calvey

Linda recalls: “He was waving, standing next to the car and the staff took the registration number and went, ‘If he’s a crook, that’s it!’

“They did a background check on him, and he was a legitimate businessman!”

When Linda confessed what she was in prison for, he asked: “Did you do it?” and she said, “No, I didn’t,” and he replied, “Well, that’s good enough for me.”

“And that was it!” adds Linda.

George began visiting Linda regularly and eventually proposed with a large teardrop diamond solitaire ring.

Linda was granted parole on August 1, 2008. Although she had to go into a halfway house for her first six months out of prison, she spent her first Christmas ‘out’ with George.

She recalls: “I told him how I love Christmas and I’ve not celebrated it all those years… We had Christmas trees everywhere and he really went to town to make it special for me.”

‘Peaceful’ life now

Linda with her son Neil

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Linda with her son NeilCredit: Supplied

Sadly George died of cancer in 2015.

Now Linda says her “peaceful” life is “full with my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren”.

“I was at my son’s yesterday for dinner and he grabbed my hand over the table and went, ‘I love you so much, Mum’,” she says.

“My daughter’s just got married for the second time and she said to me, ‘Mum, we really want you to be involved because the first time you weren’t there.’ 

“That was lovely because that was one of my worst days, when my daughter got married the first time.”

She adds: “I regret the time that I’ve been in prison because so much happened. 

“Most of my grandchildren were born while I was in prison, and I look back and realise how much I missed.

“I missed the normal things. But I’m very lucky now.”

Life Inside by Linda Calvey (£20, Welbeck) is out now.

Life Inside by Linda Calvey is out now

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Life Inside by Linda Calvey is out nowCredit: Supplied





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