Loner is charged over gay and race bombs

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The Independent Online
AN ENGINEER from Hampshire will appear in court this morning charged with planting three nail bombs in London and with the murder of three people who died after Friday evening's explosion in a gay pub in Soho.

David Copeland, 22, was charged yesterday as 19 victims of the blast remained in hospital with burns and other injuries. Four are still on the critical list.

Police said they believed Mr Copeland, of Sunnybank Road, Farnborough, had been acting alone, and that he was not a member of any of the far- right groups - including Combat 18 and the so-called White Wolves - that have claimed responsibility for the bombings.

He was detained on Saturday during an early-morning swoop on his home by unarmed officers from the Metropolitan Police's Organised Crime Group. Forensic specialists took away a number of items including "explosive material".

Those critically injured by Friday's bomb in the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street, Soho, included Julian Dykes, 25, from Colchester, Essex. Last night he was unaware that the explosion had killed his pregnant wife, Andrea, 27, and their best man, John Light, 32, also of Colchester.

The third fatality was identified yesterday as Nick Moore, 31, a London office worker. His family confirmed that he had been gay.

As well as claiming three lives, the three nail bombs of the past fortnight, planted in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho, injured a total of 130. Three people injured in Brixton are still in hospital.

Public revulsion at the toll exacted by the bombs was articulated yesterday by the Prime Minister. Addressing an international convention of Sikhs in Birmingham, Tony Blair said that an attack on one community was an attack on Britain as a whole.

"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," he said.

Mr Copeland, who was remanded in custody, was charged by officers from the Anti-Terrorist Branch with murder and with three counts of causing an explosion with intent to endanger life. He was due to appear before West London magistrates' court at 10am today.

David Veness, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, thanked the public yesterday for its "support, vigilance, fortitude and resilience". Hesaid closed-circuit television coverage had played a significant part in leading to the identification of a man and that once a suspect had been identified an arrest was made within nine hours.

Mr Veness said: "The man is not a member of any of the groups which made claims of responsibility for the bombs, nor did he make any of the claims using their names." Police believed the bomber had been working alone for his own motives, he said.

He said police did not believe that he was responsible for the hate mail sent in recent weeks to prominent black, Asian and Jewish figures, and to ethnic-minority groups and newspapers.

Nail bombings, pages 2, 3; Leading article, Review, page 3; Philip Hensher, Review, page 5