Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
David John Copeland (born May 15, 1976) is known as the "London nailbomber" for his three bomb attacks on London in 1999 which were motivated by his neo-Nazi sympathies and targeted at ethnic minorities and homosexuals.
Copeland was brought up in Yateley, Hampshire where he attended Yateley Comprehensive School and passed seven GCSEs. He left school at 16 and was involved with petty crime and drugs. In May 1997 he joined the British National Party and became a steward for some BNP meetings; at one he was pictured standing alongside John Tyndall, then party leader. However Copeland was disappointed by life in the BNP which was moving away from active physical confrontations, and he left within a year. He therefore joined the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement in 1998.
His first bomb attack was aimed at Brixton market, an area well-known as a centre for the black population of London, although Copeland later expressed his surprise at the number of white people he saw there. Copeland made his bombs using explosive from fireworks and taped it inside a sports bag before priming it and planting it on the corner of Electric Avenue. It was spotted as suspicious by the market traders and moved several times before it detonated just as the police arrived, at 5:25 PM on April 17, 1999. Fifty people were injured.
Copeland's second bomb was aimed at Brick Lane, the centre of the Bangladeshi area in the east end of London. There is a famous Brick Lane street market on Sundays but Copeland had mistaken this for Saturday when the street was quiet. Unwilling to tamper with his bomb he left it anyway in Hanbury Street where it exploded, injuring 13 people.
The Anti-Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police Service had performed exhaustive analysis of CCTV footage of Brixton and on Thursday, April 29 identified the picture of Copeland planting the bomb. The image was given wide publicity and Copeland therefore brought forward his next attack to Friday evening. A work colleague of Copeland's, Paul Mifsud, recognised him and alerted the police about 1 hour 20 minutes before Copeland's third bomb exploded at the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street, the centre of London's gay village. This bomb, in a crowded pub, killed three people, and injured and maimed over a hundred more men, women and children, many of whom were pierced by the nails inserted in the bombs by Copeland.
Copeland was arrested that night once the police obtained his address. His mental state was assessed at Broadmoor Hospital, but remained a matter of dispute at his trial. The jury found him sane and convicted him of the three murders and three offences of planting bombs, and was sentenced to six life sentences on June 30, 2000.
- Guardian story: "David Copeland: a quiet introvert, obsessed with Hitler and bombs"
- BBC news story: Nailbomber 'followed Nazism'
- Documents relating to David Copeland
- The Job special on Copeland's successful prosecution
- Toby Litt on discovering that he had lived above Copeland
- BBC profile of 'Copeland the killer'
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