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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Nailbomber 'fooled by love letter'
Brick Lane bombing
Copeland's behaviour was dictated by mental illness, the defence argued
The London nailbomber fell in love with a woman who wrote to him in prison after his arrest, the Old Bailey has been told.

But "Patricia Scanlon" was really a man using a "low trick" to fool David Copeland, 24, into corresponding with him about his trial.

Nigel Sweeney, prosecuting, said Copeland wrote back to the man while in Belmarsh Prison and in Broadmoor secure hospital.

David Copeland
David Copeland said he had fallen in love with the letter-writer
Copeland told "Patsy" he had fallen in love with her and offered to send her a clock for Christmas to "remind" her of him, adding "tick tock".

He said in another letter: "I cannot believe I have fooled all the doctors."

Mr Sweeney produced the letters as he cross-examined Dr Andrew Payne, a consultant psychiatrist from Broadmoor, about Copeland's state of mind.

Copeland, an engineer from Farnborough, Hants, has admitted causing explosions at Brixton, Brick Lane, east London and Soho in April last year.

The third blast - at the Admiral Duncan public house - killed three people including a pregnant woman.

Copeland is being tried for their murder after the prosecution refused to accept his plea of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mr Sweeney asked Dr Payne if he had viewed the letters to and from Patricia Scanlon, "a person as you now know was not a woman at all".

Victim Andrea Dykes
Andrea Dykes was four months pregnant when she was killed in the Soho bomb
"It was in fact a male journalist pretending to be a woman in order to enter into correspondence with the defendant".

Dr Payne, who had said Copeland was mentally ill, said he had seen the letters.

The court was told that a woman's photograph had been sent to Copeland and he had also asked Scanlon to send him items about himself from the internet.

Copeland had said he wanted to see the woman and she told him they could have relationship after the trial.

The letter-writer had asked about how he would plead, saying if he opted for diminished responsibility, he would be sent to hospital where he could "get better".

Copeland sent back biblical references and was said to have told her: "Be careful you don't tell anyone you write to me as they may not be who they say."

Improved condition

The court was told Copeland has become less hostile and had shown a small improvement since receiving medication in custody.

Dr Ian Cumming - a consultant psychiatrist called by the defence - said when Copeland carried out his bombing campaign, he falsely believed he would create a race war and would be rewarded.

"He believed God had chosen him and an Armageddon might result."

Copeland had started taking medication early this year "and there has been a small improvement", Dr Cumming said.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

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