ago, on the evening of 30th April 1999, that the Admiral Duncan in Soho's famous Old Compton Street was the scene of a bomb blast
that killed three people and wounded around 70. The bomb was the third that had been planted by Neo-Nazi David Copeland, who was attempting to stir
up ethnic and homophobic tensions by carrying out a series of bombings. We now remember that horrific event and hear from Michael Murphy
who followed the trial of this racist homophobe at the UK's principal criminal court.
For some strange
reason I felt inexplicably compelled to attend the trial of 24 year-old nobody, David
James Copeland. This is the twisted youth whose bigoted evil ultimately led to the
senseless murders of Nicholas Moore, Andrea Dykes and John Light at last April's third and
final nail-bombing at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.
As we sat huddled in the crowded well within the hallowed portals of The
Old Bailey's imposing, dark, wood-panelled Court Number One on June 5th we finally got our
first glimpse of the monster who had succeeded, with such ease, to violently shatter so
many innocent lives.
As the charges
were read to him, Copeland cut a pathetic figure in the dock. A short, podgy,
surly-looking youth with unkempt mousey hair, he was dressed in creased, dark trousers and
an open-necked grey cotton shirt. As his father looked down from the public gallery above,
Copeland sat impassively in the glass-enclosed dock, flanked on either side by
half-a-dozen burly-looking security guards.
His expression was sullen, almost challenging, as he gruffly entered
guilty pleas to the charges of causing those three fateful explosions in Brixton, Brick
Lane and Soho. He denied the three charges of murder, instead offering pleas to the lesser
charges of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The Crown had earlier refused to accept these pleas, and thus the die had
been cast. The burden of proof had moved from the prosecution to the defence. Copeland, as
expected, played the 'nutty' card. His defence would contend that he suffered from mental
abnormalities that rendered him incapable of rational reason.
No 1 Court
Opening for the
Crown, Mr Nigel Sweeney QC, outlined the events leading to last year's three tragic nail
bombings. The court learned that Copeland had formerly been a member of the far-right
British National Party, and had been impressed by the carnage caused by the Atlanta
bombing during the 1996 Olympics. At the time he was just 19 years-old.
He had admitted to detectives that he "fervently" believed in
the white-supremacist doctrine of the German Nazi Party, telling them that he read
Hitler's 'Mien Kampffe' avidly. During one police interview, Copeland said: "I am a
Nazi, whatever you want to call me. I believe in a ruling master race. Racial dominance
should belong to us."