Soho nail bomber David Copeland sentenced for prison attack

By Dominic Casciani
Home affairs correspondent

image source, PA
image captionDavid Copeland, pictured in 1999, was jailed for bombing Brick Lane, Soho and Brixton

One of the UK's most dangerous hate-crime killers has been sentenced to three additional years in prison for attacking a fellow inmate.

David Copeland was jailed for targeting Brick Lane, Soho and Brixton in 1999 in a 13-day nail bombing campaign that left three people dead and 139 injured.

He has now been sentenced for attacking an inmate at HMP Belmarsh with a toothbrush modified with razor blades.

Copeland, 39, will not now be eligible for release until he is in his mid-70s.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that in June last year Copeland - who was given six life sentences in 2000 for the London bombings - was being held at the maximum security prison in south-east London.

'A permanent reminder'

He had a row or dispute with fellow inmate Thomas McDonagh and entered the exercise yard the next day with a toothbrush, modified to hold two razor blades, hidden in his trousers.

As he approached McDonagh, another prisoner, Sean Duignan, punched Copeland and there was a chase across the yard.

Duignan ran into the prison laundry, pulled down a notice board and said: "I'm going to do him, let me have him".

However, as a prisoner officer intervened to stop Duignan going after the killer, Copeland turned his attention to McDonagh.

Copeland slashed twice at McDonagh, leaving him with parallel scarring from the twin-bladed weapon, one injury running from his ear across his face and the other above his eye.

Moments later Copeland was overpowered by prison officers with a baton strike to his leg. He was placed in solitary confinement for 11 months.

Judge Anuja Dhir QC said the attack happened so quickly that officers could not stop it.

image source, PA
image captionThree people died after a nail bomb was placed in a packed bar in London's Soho

She said: "The attack involved David Copeland running 20 metres or more across the yard with a weapon on show.

"He wanted to inflict a permanent reminder of what he had done - and he achieved that aim."

Sentencing Copeland, who pleaded guilty to wounding with intent, the judge added: "You are dangerous, but the danger you pose to the public is sufficiently controlled."

But said the nature of the offence meant she had to give him an additional sentence on top of his existing minimum term.

Officer commendations

Copeland's six life sentences carry a minimum term of 50 years. He will serve at least 18 months of his additional three-year sentence.

However, Copeland will still not be released until the Parole Board is sure it is safe to do so.

Throughout the hearing, Copeland - who now has a thick short beard and a receding hairline - listened intently on a video link from HMP Frankland.

When Judge Dhir asked if he understood the extra sentence, he said he did and then waved to her at the end of the hearing.

The judge commended Det Con Yeliz Ersiner of the Metropolitan Police for how she had handled the investigation, and prison officers Frank Hughes and Paul Leahy for their actions in the prison yard.

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