When one thinks of British celebrities, the Royal Family, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Judi Dench are some names that come to mind. But American audiences have a very myopic view of British pop culture. Many are unfamiliar with more lesser known, eccentric entertainers that English audiences take for granted.
Perhaps, they might say, it’s better that way. Because for every beloved British celebrity who charms the world, there are others so monstrous, that they’ve become morbidly fascinating tabloid fodder in their homeland.
The truth is, there’s a host of notorious celebrity scandals in the U.K. that are outrageous, frightening, and flat-out disturbing, ranging from theft and burglary to cases involving rampant assault and murder.
Sometimes these incidences of celebrity misconduct are isolated events, while others are a repetitive series of vile, predatory acts that have damaged hundreds of lives and affected their victims in truly horrific and devastating ways.
So who are these celebrities in question, what did they do, and how did they ultimately pay for their crimes? We’re about to tell you.
Here are 15 British Stars Rotting In Jail (And The Crimes That Got Them There).
15. Thomas Farrell
At one point Farrell was a big up and comer, starring in the Showtime series The Tudors alongside the likes of Henry Cavill and Jonathan Rhys-Myers. He never made it to the big time however, after some major brushes with the law and bouts with mental illness sidelined his career.
Earlier this year Farrell went on a bizarre crime spree, stealing a purse from an unsuspecting victim, vandalizing cars and attacking a passerby with a sledgehammer, before shoving a woman to the floor so hard that she lost consciousness.
The actor was arrested shortly afterwards and sentenced to 8 weeks for common assault. Things took a turn, however, when it was revealed he had smuggled heroin into the prison. His sentence was extended to four years.
14. Jeremy McConnell
This model and reality star of TV series including Celebrity Big Brother and MTV’s Beauty School Cop Out made the headlines in an equally sensationalistic way this summer, after being found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, actress Stephanie Davis.
During the trial, Davis said that McConnell threw her around like a “rag doll” and appeared to be having a “psychotic episode.” McConnell was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison, (on a suspended sentence) while also required to perform 200 hours of community service.
13. Charles Bronson
Known as the “most violent prisoner in Britain” and “Britain’s most notorious prisoner,” Peterson is a legendary figure in the U.K. His offenses are measurable, including armed robbery, wounding with intent, bodily harm, false imprisonment, blackmail and more.
Tom Hardy portrayed Peterson in the film Bronson and his larger-than-life story was seemingly made for the big screen. Peterson has had multiple marriages, spent time as an illegal bare knuckle boxer, and is an all around colorful character who somehow conjures goodwill despite his criminal record.
His stints in prison haven’t tamed his behavior– he’s attacked prison guards, held a librarian hostage, assaulted a prison governor, and even kidnapped his art teacher – the latter of which granted him a life tariff.
12. Crazy Titch
English Grime MC Crazy Titch (real name Carl Dobson) became enraged after his half-brother Dwayne Mahorn (aka rap artist Durrty Doogz) was dissed in a song lyric by rival rapper Shaba Shak. After Mahorn confronted Shak’s producer Richard Holmes and demanded an apology (only to be refused), Titch decided to take violent action.
Dobson, accompanied by Mahorn and his step-father Anthony Green, confronted the music producer over this seemingly trivial transgression, and things quickly turned violent. Dobson shot him in the back as he tried to flee from their confrontation.
For their crimes of murder and manslaughter, both Dobson and Green were each sentenced to life imprisonment (Mahorn wasn’t charged). Dobson will have the opportunity for parole in 30 years. He still records music and occasionally releases material from prison.
11. Joseph Shade
Joseph Shade was most famous to Brit audiences for his role as young Peter Beale on the popular soap opera East Enders from 1998-2004.
In 2017, Shade was convicted for offenses against three teenage girls (who ranged in ages from 14-17) that occurred between 2012 and 2015.
Even more nefariously, Shade was working as a youth worker during that time, and sought inappropriate photos from underaged girls through text messages. After leaving East Enders, Shade had behavioural problems and was helped by the very same youth project where he later worked. Shade admitted to using his position of power to take advantage of these young girls.
10. DVS/Courtney Hutchinson
In January of 2017, London rapper and actor Courtney Hutchinson, aka DVS, was sentenced to 23 years in prison after being convicted of torturing a 20-year-old woman for over 3 days. He filmed her torture as well, mocking her pain and fear.
According to XXL magazine, “At one point, DVS told the woman she would die the next day and told her to call her mother to ‘say goodbye.'” The woman eventually escaped and the detective on the case said: “I would like to praise the bravery and determination of the victim of this truly harrowing ordeal.” Hutchinson pled guilty to intent, rape, and false imprisonment.
In a disturbing case of life imitating art, Hutchinson had recently starred in the 2016 film The Intent, playing a gangster who tortured a victim in a similar matter. It seems he may have taken lessons from his film role and applied them to real life.
9. Gary Glitter
Glitter (real name Paul Gadd) was a ’70s glam rock legend, whose song Rock and Roll Part 2 became a mainstay at sports events. But in 1997 he was arrested after over 4000 inappropriate images of children were found on his computer hard drive.
He served 4 months in prison, and was forced to register as a sex offender. After fleeing England for Cambodia upon his release, he was deported from the country after suspicion of child abuse, upon which he fled to Vietnam.
He was arrested there after accusations of assaulting 6 underage girls. He served 3 years in Vietnamese Prison and was deported in 2008, and he returned to England. But he wasn’t done.
8. Ben Papantoniou
This reality TV star (known for his high-profile role on Seven Days) got into hot water after pulling off a crime spree that saw him abuse his position as a lettings manager in London. After leaving his post at Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, he used his property management industry knowhow to gain keys to a variety of homes under the guise of showing them to potential renters.
His real goal, however, was stealing from the properties he planned on “showing,” and he made off with more than £3,000 in cash along with jewelery, watches, handbags and other valuable items.
7. Adam Johnson
This famous footballer stunned sports fans when it was revealed he had relations with a minor. Johnson (who was 28 at the time of sentencing) was accused of grooming a 15-year-old girl and engaging in sexual activity, even though he knew she was underage.
Johnson was caught thanks to his excessive use of social media, with his messaging and chat transcripts documenting his disturbing activities. Upon his arrest it was also discovered that he was being treated for STDs at the time.
During the athletes criminal sentencing the judge condemned Johnson’s actions, saying that he caused “an abuse of trust – you are trusted by young fans to behave properly” and that his behavior caused his victim “severe psychological harm.” For his crime, he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
6. Fred Talbot
This former famous weatherman on ITV’s This Morning is now less known for his meteorological skills than for being a relentless predator. In 2015, he was convicted for assaulting two boys back when he was a schoolteacher, and was put in jail for five years.
As he was being sentenced, the judge told him “You deliberately and indecently assaulted the two of them for your own gratification.” Talbot sat their stone-faced and unmoved, seemingly remorseless.
Sadly, these were not isolated incidences for Talbot, and in 2017 he was brought to trial yet again, accused of assaulting multiple schoolboys during camping trips that took place over 30 years ago. He was also shamed for using his status as a biology teacher to earn and abuse their trust. He was found guilty of 7 cases of abuse and sentenced to four more years in prison.
5. Max Clifford
Max Clifford was one of the most controversial publicists to ever operate in the U.K. He was deliberately provocative, taking on clients who were mired in scandals, crimes and promotions of “kiss and tell” stories that made him a tabloid fixture.
Why Clifford would have wanted to represent clients like O.J. Simpson (post-murder trial, mind you) may become clearer after it was revealed he had plenty of his own skeletons in the closet. Clifford used his high-profile stature to victimize young girls and women after promising them fame and fortune.
In 2014 he was found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault. His female victims were all teenagers, varying between the ages of 15 and 19. For his crimes he was sentenced to a total of 8 years behind bars.
4. Chris Denning
Former BBC DJ Chris Denning was convicted of truly reprehensible charges in 2016. In total, he confessed to 21 offences against boys, including one as young as 8. The crimes occurred between 1969 and 1986.
Denning’s appalling behavior goes farther back however: he’s been arrested on multiple occasions for assaulting children over the past few decades, most infamously in the early ’70s during the Walton Hop Disco Scandal, which exposed a child abuse ring run by Denning and a host of other music industry power players.
In 2014, Denning admitted to 29 charges committed against boys, and pleaded guilty to 11 more. All in all he was convicted of a whopping 40 offenses between 1967 to 1987 (with 26 male victims). He was sentenced to 13 years in prison. For his conviction in 2016, he received an additional 13 years. Hopefully he will never be allowed in society again.
3. Stuart Hall
In 2013, this former BBC television and radio presenter of variety shows and sporting events was charged with multiple instances of assault that spanned over a 20 year period. All told, he pled guilty to assaulting 13 girls between 9 and 17 years of age, occurring between the time periods of 1967 and 1986.
Hall’s sentencing of a mere 15 months drew much public disapproval, and after being considered too lenient, it was expanded to 30 months. Later, Hall was additionally convicted for assaulting a 13-year-old girl, where he was than given an additional 30 months to his sentence.
Incredibly, even after such damning evidence and public outcry, Hall wound up only serving half of his sentence and was released in 2015. A shocking 2016 internal review found that Hall had assaulted 21 victims between 1967 and 1991, yet was never reported due to his powerful status.
2. Ian Watkins
During the late ’90s and ’00s, Watkins was best known as the charismatic vocalist for alternative rockers Lostprophets. Now he’s known for something else.
In 2012 Watkins was charged with conspiracy to assault a one-year-old girl, along with possession and distribution of adult. Shockingly, he had somehow convinced two mothers to let him abuse their children. They were each charged as co-conspirators.
One of his victims was a baby boy, to which he texted the mother “If you belong to me, so does your baby.” For his crimes he received 29 years in prison (his co-conspirators received 14 and 17 years respectively). He’s shown no remorse, calling his crimes “mega lolz” during a phone call to a fan.
1. Jimmy Savile
If life was fair, Jimmy Savile would have rotted and died in jail. As it was, he merely died. And it wasn’t until after his death that the world learned he was one of the most vile predators to ever walk the planet.
The former host of BBC’s Top of the Pops was held in high public regard, well-known for his charity work with hospitals and (most horrifyingly) child safety campaigns. But he had a dark side, assaulting hundreds of women and children over 6 decades.
While rumors persisted over the years, his public reputation (and police incompetence) kept him protected. After he died in 2011, multiple victims came forward. Investigators now believe he had at least 500 victims, including children as young as 2 years old. One can only imagine if Savile was still alive during the #MeToo era, if he would have received the punishment he deserved.
What other outrageous British celebrity crimes did we miss? Let us know in the comments.
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