The teenager who threw a six-year-old off the top of the Tate Modern had revealed his murderous plan months earlier.
Yet astonishingly Jonty Bravery, who was in council care, was still allowed to visit the gallery alone.
The Mail has obtained a shocking recording of the autistic teenager vowing to ‘push somebody off’ a tall building – almost a year before Bravery hurled the French boy from the London landmark’s 100ft viewing balcony, nearly killing him.
Care workers – one of whom claims he alerted a senior colleague – were so alarmed by what Bravery was saying that they taped him as he calmly explained: ‘I’ve got it in my head, a way to kill somebody… and I know for a fact they’ll die from falling from the hundred feet.’ A Mail investigation into last summer’s horrific incident at Tate Modern reveals:
On August 4 last year, Bravery horrified tourists on the Tate tower’s viewing platform by suddenly lifting up the French boy, on summer holiday with his parents, and throwing him over a chest-high barrier. The boy’s mother gave a ‘primal scream’ as her son plunged 100ft.
The youngster was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition with fractures to his spine, legs and arms and a bleed on the brain. He remains in hospital, severely disabled.
In December, Bravery, 18, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to attempted murder.
Now, ahead of his sentencing hearing, the Mail in conjunction with BBC News has obtained a spine-chilling audio recording of Bravery outlining his plan to throw someone from a tall building.
Recorded by his carers in autumn 2018, Bravery calmly explains the plot taking shape in his disturbed mind, to go on a visit to central London ‘as if we’re having a normal day’ and ‘visit some of the landmarks’. He said: ‘It could be the Shard, it could be anything… as long as it’s a high thing. And we could go up and visit it, and then push one of… push somebody off it.’
He told his carers he was determined to kill someone because ‘I know for a fact, I’m going to go to prison, if I do that’.
Bravery, who was 17 at the time of the attempted murder, claimed being in prison would be better than being in council care.
The teenager, who has autism, an obsessive compulsive disorder, and a personality disorder, was a challenge for his family and had been moved into council care in 2017.
Hammersmith and Fulham council in London had responsibility for him, and it subcontracted the work to an experienced private care provider named Spencer and Arlington. Bravery lived in a flat provided by the council in Northolt, west London, where a team of up to six Spencer and Arlington carers, working in pairs, looked after him day and night.
In autumn 2018, Bravery admitted to one of his carers that he wanted to throw someone from a tall building. Concerned, the carer asked him to repeat it in front of a second carer, and that is when they recorded his confession.
Although neither of them was working with Bravery on August 4, 2019, they claimed he was allowed out that day entirely on his own to visit the Tate Modern, which has a ten-storey-high observation deck with open views over central London.
An independent serious case review has now been set up to find out exactly what went wrong.
Of the carers, who was interviewed by the Mail, says he alerted a more senior colleague to Bravery’s horrendous ‘tall building’ plot. He also claims to have played the shocking recording to someone else involved in Bravery’s care. They both deny this. Spencer and Arlington said in a statement that it had ‘no knowledge and no records’ of the claims being made.
The firm said: ‘We will continue to co-operate openly and with complete transparency with the serious case review and await its conclusions. We are confident the full facts will emerge from this process. We believe we have acted entirely properly in managing and reporting the provision of care for Jonty Bravery. However, with regards to the entirely speculative claim put to us that Jonty may have told carers of his plans, there is absolutely no evidence of this and nor is there any mention of this recorded in any care plan, case report or review from managers or from his carers, psychologists, or health workers reporting to us.’
It added it had nonetheless recognised ‘the gravity’ of the Mail’s claims and had reported them to the care watchdog and the serious case review.
Hammersmith and Fulham council 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.’
Carers in charge of Tate pusher Jonty Bravery were instructed: ‘Never say no to him.’ The volatile teenager had a nasty habit of turning aggressive if he did not get his own way.
Staff assigned to the stocky teen around the clock said they were helpless to confront him if he stole from shops, and were not even allowed to wake him if he overslept.
The details of the way this emotionally disturbed teenager was supervised raise yet more questions about whether the terrible tragedy could have been averted.
At least two carers knew of Bravery’s plan to throw someone off a tall building, which they recorded. The Daily Mail has been handed the chilling recording by one of the carers, whom we are calling Olly.
He said: ‘I genuinely thought he was going to do it, because Jonty is the kind of person who, if he says he will do something, he will do it. He doesn’t say something without trying to do it.
‘Jonty was very challenging and complex. He could be nice but was also highly manipulative, and very difficult when not getting his own way. He was constantly trying to get out of the house, get access to females, get on to the internet.
‘If he didn’t get a specific item that he wanted, he had the potential to either steal the item or he would give the staff hell. Basically, we would just go back later and pay for whatever he stole.
‘You can’t say no to Jonty. It was written in his care plan. If you say no, it will trigger him to do the complete opposite of what you told him not to do. It would aggressively work him up, and the situation would get more out of hand.’
Perhaps it is little wonder that 18-year-old Bravery, with his autism and myriad personality disorders, was allegedly described by one care professional as ‘my most complex client’.
He was not always like that. Family photos reflect a happy upbringing, with primary school-aged Jonty smiling happily in costume with a cardboard axe in a school play. Another shows him being hugged by his father.
Bravery was born on October 2, 2001, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in West London. He and his parents lived in a stylish four-bedroom house in Parsons Green that is now worth £1.8million, but they had separated by the time Jonty was three. His father Piers Bravery, 53, now a Surrey-based company director who runs a printing firm, and mother, an ex-air hostess, both have new families.
Bravery, who struggled through early life attending various special needs schools, was said to have been jealous of their more ‘normal’ lives.
During his childhood, Bravery’s father campaigned passionately for more help for children with autism. He raised funds for a special needs centre that had been ‘incredibly caring and understanding to my son Jonty’. But as his son grew older, and bigger, he became more of a challenge for his family and teachers.
In 2017, Bravery was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, aged 16, and taken from his home. He spent six weeks in a mental health facility – but after that he was allowed to live semi-independently in a residential flat in Northolt, west London. He was the responsibility of Hammersmith and Fulham social services, and assigned up to six full-time carers. They worked in pairs to ensure – in theory, at least – he was never alone, day or night.
Bravery devoted himself to trying to outwit them. Olly told the Mail: ‘You could tell when Jonty was about to do something, because there were always signs when he was plotting – a lot of eye contact, a lot of aggression. Jonty’s aim was not to make your day tricky, but if you got in his way, he would make it tricky.
‘He was always scheming. We worked in pairs, not so much because Jonty was violent, but because he was highly manipulative and could easily manipulate a lone carer.’
The team of carers, who all worked for a private care firm that was contracted by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to look after Bravery, helped him with his domestic routine and taking his medication. If Bravery wanted to go out, there would be a ‘risk assessment’ and they would usually accompany him.
Bravery was articulate and intelligent, but ‘played dumb’ when it suited him. He had researched his own conditions online and deliberately exhibited the worst symptoms. Olly said: ‘He knew how to use autism, in terms of making it work for him.
‘Jonty had about four key aims. He wanted to get out of the house, access to the internet, access to his parents, access to females. I wouldn’t say it was a fascination, but he really liked women, especially when he was out, and you had to be very vigilant of what he might say or do around women. Everything was geared towards his aims and he would try to remove anything which caused a problem with achieving them.
‘His mindset was: you guys are in my way, so how am I going to get you out of my way? Cause you hell.’
Olly added: ‘He wasn’t unpredictable – he knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted you to quit, and then he would start again with your replacement.’
The carers had to ban Bravery from the internet after he used his iPad to try to stalk the family he no longer lived with. He had made it his ‘number one priority’ to get out of care and back to them.
Bravery’s techniques for manipulating his carers ranged from leaving ‘dirty protests’ around the flat, to wreaking havoc. A neighbour of the property in west London recalled how he would throw things out of his window and was often seen running naked around the estate after he had shaken off his carers.
He said: ‘I know he needs to have them with him at all times because he could hurt someone. He’s often managed to get away from them and I have seen him completely without his clothes running around the garden on many occasions.’
Another neighbour said that in the same week as the Tate incident, Bravery had kicked a hole in the door of his flat. ‘I heard him screaming, fighting with a carer. He was in a real rage,’ she said.