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 Posted Wednesday, May 5, 1999

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British Press coyly reveals that neighbours regarded the nail-bomb attacker as "a lovely boy," and describes him as the son of a "wealthy businessman." (Press had blindly blamed Britain's mythical Far Right for the murders until his capture).

Nail bombs: loner charged


A MAN was yesterday charged with the three nail bomb attacks in London which have killed three people and left more than 100 injured, some critically.

David Copeland, 22, an engineer from Sunnybank Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, will appear before West London magistrates today accused of murder and three counts of causing an explosion. The arrest came after massive publicity for pictures of a suspect taken from closed-circuit television film and a huge national police operation.

Police said they believed the bomber had worked on his own and was not linked to any neo-Nazi group. Senior officers reported the latest developments to the Prime Minister, who was in the Midlands, and Jack Straw, the Home Secretary.

Fifteen people are still in hospital after the bombing at the Admiral Duncan public house, a gay rendezvous in Old Compton Street in Soho. They include eight who are in a critical condition. Among the dead are Andrea Dykes, 27, from Colchester, Essex, who was pregnant, and John Light, 32, her best man. Julian Dykes, her husband, 26, is seriously ill.

Another three victims are still in hospital after the bomb in Brixton on April 17.

Mr Copeland, who works on the Jubilee Line, was arrested early on Saturday at his home. nine hours after a tip-off by a member of the public. The arrest followed the release by police last Thursday of pictures of a young man in a baseball cap and zipper jacket seen on closed-circuit television cameras in Brixton on the afternoon of the first explosion.

Just before 2am on Saturday unarmed detectives from the Yard's Flying Squad surrounded the house where Mr Copeland, who comes originally from London, rents a room. Neighbours were evacuated during the operation and yesterday the Yard said officers had seized items which could be used for making bombs.

David Veness, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in charge of specialist CID operations, said there was "no suggestion at this stage that the arrest was linked in any way to the extreme right-wing groups which have reportedly claimed responsibility for these attacks". He said Mr Copeland was not a member of any of the neo-Nazi groups which claimed to have planted the bombs and he did not make any of the claims using their names. "We do not believe the man arrested was responsible for the hate mail which has featured in media speculation surrounding the investigation."

The Assistant Commissioner said communities had come together with the police in fighting the threat of attack.

The attacks began on April 17 when a a bomb packed with nails exploded in Brixton High Road, an area with a large Afro-Caribbean community. Among the injured in that attack was a boy of 23 months whose skull was punctured by a nail. Two other victims, both men, could be left blinded. A week later a nail bomb was left near Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets, East London, which is the centre of the biggest expatriate Bangladeshi community in the world. Six people were injured. Police believe the bomber primed his devices in a rented room in central London.

Police were watching suspect's home before Soho pub blast

Loner on Nail Bomb Charges


A MAN was charged yesterday over the London nail bomb attacks.

And it emerged that his home was already being watched by police when Central London was hit by an explosion on Friday night.

Three people were killed and more than 70 injured when a device went off in a gay bar in Soho. But it was not until the early hours of Saturday that a man was arrested.

Police said last night they suspected the bomber had been working alone and was not a member of any neo-Nazi group.

Engineer David Copeland, 22, of Sunnybank Road, Cove, Farnborough, Hampshire, will face West London magistrates today on three charges of murder and three of causing an explosion with intent to endanger life.

It follows the two-week nail bomb campaign in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho.

Police arrested Copeland after a suspect was identified from closed-circuit TV footage taken in Brixton shortly before the blast there on Saturday, April 17.

The bomb in Brixton, which has a large black community, was followed a week later by an explosion in Brick Lane, an area popular with Bangladeshis.

The latest attack - on the gay pub the Admiral Duncan in Old Compton Street, Soho - prompted fears of a sustained campaign by neo-Nazis opposed to minorities.

However, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner David Veness said yesterday:

'There is no suggestion at this stage that the arrest is linked in any way to the extreme Right-wing groups which have been reportedly claiming responsibility for these attacks on innocent people. There appeared, and still appears, to be no trigger event or specific date which has sparked these attacks.'

There was believed not to be any link between the bombings and a recent hate mail campaign against ethnic minorities. A far-Right group calling itself the White Wolves had claimed responsibility for the Soho bombing, but Yard chiefs now believe that to be a hoax.

Mr Veness thanked the people of London and the rest of Britain for their 'support, vigilance, fortitude and resilience'. But he added: 'We must not become complacent at a time when there is always the chance of facing the unpredictability and diversity of terrorist threats.'

It was confirmed that police had seized bomb-making equipment including 'explosive material' from an address in Cove in the early hours of Saturday.

Last night Copeland's family were said to be in shock. At home in Yateley, Hampshire, his father Stephen, a wealthy businessman, refused to come to the door.

His two other sons and former wife Caroline could not be reached for comment.

One of Copeland's relatives said last night: 'I'm devastated by it all. We only found out today. I've just come off the phone to his mother, who can't believe it either.

'What can you say? We're still in a state of shock. He is a lovely boy and was well educated.'

It is understood that Copeland attended one of Britain's leading state schools, Yateley School, which prides itself on turning out good citizens.

On its Internet website, its vision statement reads: 'We will strive together to enable individual potential to flourish in a stimulating and caring environment.' Copeland is believed to have been trained to be an electrician and to have recently worked on the Jubilee Line extension project on the London Underground.

Yesterday more than 2,000 people gathered in Soho to remember the victims of the bombing in a moving show of both sorrow and defiance. Pink and rainbow flags fluttered in the breeze as a stream of speakers including Home Office Minister Paul Boateng, gay activists and a homosexual rabbi addressed the crowd.

Chief Superintendent Jo Kaye, the officer in charge of policing Soho, paid tribute to the 'strength and dignity' of the gay community. Messages of support were read out from the Queen, Tony Blair, Home Secretary Jack Straw, local Tory MP Peter Brooke, Lib-Dem leader Paddy Ashdown and pop group All Saints.

There was also a message from the accident and emergency staff of St Thomas's Hospital. Today Prince Charles will visit the scene of the carnage, meet community leaders from Brixton and Brick Lane, and visit the injured at St Thomas's.

Although the death toll remained at three last night, it was expected to rise because of the dreadful injuries others suffered.

Jonathan Street, spokesman for the NHS in London, said 19 people were still in hospital, six in a critical condition.


These attacks are on all of us, says Blair


Chief Political Correspondent

TONY BLAIR called on the entire nation to repudiate violence against minority groups yesterday after the bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho. An attack on any one section of society should be regarded as an assault on the whole country, the Prime Minister said.

'When one section of our community is under attack, we defend them in the name of all the community. When bombs attack the black and Asian community in Britain, they attack the whole of Britain.

'When the gay community is attacked and Innocent people are murdered, all the good people of Britain, whatever their race, their lifestyle, their class, unite in revulsion and determination to bring the evil people to justice.' Mr Blair told an International convention of Sikhs in Birmingham: 'In responding in this way, we are doing more than bringing killers to justice. We are defending what it means to be British.

He praised the vigour and resolution being shown by Scotland Yard in responding to the atrocities. But in what amounted to an appeal to the entire country to show vigilance and support, he called on every citizen to stand up for mutual tolerance and respect for all minorities in society - a basic tenant of the Sikhs.

He said patriotism no longer excluded people through colour, religion or ethnic background, but should take in a diversity which enriched and united the country.

He insisted that the true outcasts and minorities in Britain are not the different races and religions, but 'the racists, the bombers, the violent criminals who hate that vision of Britain and try to destroy it'.

He said: 'They shall not win. The great decent majority of British people will not let them. We will defeat them and then we can build the tolerant, multi-racial Britain the vast majority of us want to see.'

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