Tate Modern: what happened to boy thrown from balcony of London art gallery, and is Jonty Bravery in prison?

The boy, who was 6 years old at the time, was left seriously injured when Jonty Bravery threw him off the Tate Modern viewing balcony
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Almost three years ago a young boy was thrown off the viewing balcony on the 10th floor of the Tate Modern leaving him seriously injured.

The teenager who carried out the attack was later convicted of attempted murder and jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years.

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But what happened at the Tate Modern Gallery, how is the boy now, and who is his attacker Jonty Bravery?

Jonty Bravery was jailed for throwing the then 6-year-old boy off the viewing platform at the Tate Modern.Jonty Bravery was jailed for throwing the then 6-year-old boy off the viewing platform at the Tate Modern.
Jonty Bravery was jailed for throwing the then 6-year-old boy off the viewing platform at the Tate Modern.

What happened at the Tate Modern Gallery?

On 4 August, 2019, at 12.16pm Jonty Bravery who was living in supported accommodation in Ealing, west London, left his home to buy an Oyster card at a shop on Church Road, Northolt.

Just after 1pm he arrived at the Shard, but CCTV showed him turning away to ask for directions before leaving.

By 2.16pm Bravery, who was 17 years old at the time, had arrived at Tate Modern on foot and took the lift to the tenth floor viewing balcony in the visitor attraction’s Blavatnik Building.

Shortly after CCTV showed him looking over the railings.

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Just after 2.30pm the then six-year-old boy and his parents arrived on the viewing tower where Bravery was waiting. The boy skipped ahead of his parents briefly, and Bravery scooped him up and threw him over the edge.

Bravery moved away and was seen smiling, with his arms raised. The victim’s father challenged Bravery, while the mother attempted to climb over the barriers to her son, 100ft (30m) below, before being stopped by witnesses.

Members of the public detained Bravery. He was later heard saying: “It’s not my fault, it’s social services’ fault.”

Bravery’s young victim, who was on holiday with his parents in the capital from France, survived the fall, but suffered life-changing injuries, including a bleed on the brain and multiple broken bones.

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Although he sustained horrific injuries he has made progress in his recovery, In August 2020 his parents said he had been able to spend a weekend at home away from medical care. While the following month the reported he was able to stand unaided.

Emergency crews attending a scene at the Tate Modern art gallery. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireEmergency crews attending a scene at the Tate Modern art gallery. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Emergency crews attending a scene at the Tate Modern art gallery. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Who is Jonty Bravery?

Bravery, who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of 5 years old, was in supported accommodation under the care of Hammersmith and Fulham social services at the time of the attack.

He had been allowed out unsupervised despite a history of lashing out at staff.

In the lead up to the murder bid he carried out a number of disturbing internet searches including news articles with the headlines “CCTV footage shows tube push murder attempt”, and searching to see if someone could go to jail for attempted murder if they had autism.

“Guaranteed ways to go to jail”, was another search made.

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Bravery would later disclose to a psychiatrist he had researched the easiest way to kill someone.

He subsequently narrowed it down to three possibilities: strangling a woman or a child, drowning a child, or throwing someone off a tall building.

Bravery researched the tallest building in London – the Shard – and headed there first.

Put off by the entry fee, he instead sought out an alternative - the Tate Modern.

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As horrified onlookers desperately tried to help the boy he threw off the platform, the teenager made a confession: “I think I’ve murdered someone.”

Arrested by the Metropolitan Police moments after the incident Bravery said he hoped the attack would be widely reported in the media – not through any apparent desire for infamy, but in an effort to highlight his treatment for autism.

“I wanted to be on the news, who I am and why I did it, so when it is official no-one can say anything else,” Bravery, who also has obsessive compulsive disorder and is thought to have a personality disorder, told police afterwards.

Bravery - who was warned by a judge he may never be released, had another 14 weeks added to his jail term for assaulting nursing staff in Broadmoor Hospital. He was being held at the high-security psychiatric hospital on remand ahead of sentencing.

He is serving his sentence in Belmarsh prison.

Jonty Bravery.Jonty Bravery.
Jonty Bravery.

How is the young boy doing now?

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In a post on a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than 353,000 euro (nearly £300,000) for the boy’s treatment and rehabilitation, his family said he had had been able to celebrate his birthday with other children for the first time since the attack.

The post said : “Our son was able to invite classmates and even one of his buddies from our old town was able to come!

“They had a great afternoon together, despite their differences in mobility.

“It was exhausting for us, but it was a step closer to a classic life, and it’s worth it.”

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The boy is moving his left ankle, has strengthened his back, and even tried to use the school canteen but is still very sensitive to noise.

He complained of having earache after the canteen meal and next week his occupational therapist will lend him noise-cancelling headphones to see if it can help soothe his eardrums when needed.

His family said the new ankle movement is “still light of course, but clearly visible for two weeks”.

They added: “Our little knight is standing more and more upright (he has gained muscle tone and strengthened his back) and he has made enough progress in his right ankle for his doctor to decide to remove the splint from the right foot!

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“Our son therefore only has two splints left, on the left foot and on the left hand. Little by little, his armour is disappearing!”

The boy also has a “strong desire” to go in the water as he had always liked swimming but this can now only be managed with “great vigilance”, according to his relatives.

They said: “He still can’t put his head under water because of his swallowing difficulties. Our son has to start all over again from the beginning but that doesn’t scare him!”

The family added: “Some periods are so difficult. Sadness and discouragement would sometimes take hold of us, but we must hold on and focus on all the progress made.

“Thank you so much for continuing to think of our little knight and for encouraging us.”