Wherever Zack Davies lays his head tonight, it will be a lonely place. That cheeky smirk in the stock photo that has adorned newspapers during his trial will be gone.
Davies’s reward for trying to kill Dr Sarandev Bhambra will almost certainly be immediate solitary confinement.
Prisons in the United Kingdom tend to keep violent racists quarantined from the rest of the prison population. It’s double edged: partly for their own protection and partly for the safety of other prisoners. Their letters are read and their mail is censored.
The prison psychiatrist will be in early to see his new patient. After all, anyone that can just walk into a supermarket in broad daylight armed with a hammer and a machete and just begin hacking at a random stranger does beg the question as to whether there could be mental health issues. And, who else would do that kind of thing?
Ah yes, Jihadists like Michael Adebalajo and Michael Adebowale. They attacked a British soldier on the streets of south London. Like Davies, those two only had very slim and narrow criteria in choosing their victim. Davies even evoked their victim’s name when carrying out his own machete attack some two years later.
Earlier this month there was great focus on another young British extremist with murderous intent, this time a British Muslim: Talha Asmal. Asmal, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, became “Britain’s youngest-ever suicide bomber” after blowing himself up in Iraq on the orders of his murderous masters in Islamic State.
Asmal’s family were understandably traumatised. And there was great sympathy for them too. Their young man, another one with a cheeky grin, had been groomed over the internet to go to a foreign country and kill himself and strangers to further his cause. His reward, if what was promised to him is true, is a life in paradise surrounded by virgins.
For Zack Davies, there were no such promises of rewards. Thankfully, he failed to kill his victim, but not for the want of trying. In court, facing up to the sort of life he now faces, Davies denied he was trying to kill Dr Bhambra at all. He said that if he had wanted to kill the doctor, he would have pushed aside the brave ex-soldier that came between him and his victim in the aisles of a branch of Tesco’s supermarket in Mold, North Wales, in January this year.
Davies had thought his victim was a Muslim. He took a chance; Dr Bhambra is Asian. However, Dr Bhambra is a Sikh.
That didn’t really matter to Davies; it was a racist attack after all. He admitted as much. Though he desperately tried to claim in his defence that he did not want to kill Dr Bhambra, neither the victim or the man that stood between them were in any doubt of his actual and real intentions.
When this story goes up on social media, I doubt there will be many with much sympathy for Davies. After all, he had a bedroom full of nazi propaganda and race hate materials. He had associated with known and rabid nazis who regularly write about their sick fantasies of killing and maiming people they do not like.
Davies was part of the same group of fantasists and fanatics, National Action, who spray paint Jewish monuments, pose with guns, send vile tweets to members of the Jewish community, and choreograph their activities to look frightening and dangerous.
Those middle class lads and lasses behind National Action who come from what one assumes must be nice, twee homes, will not be held to account for Davies’s actions.
Even though it appears Davies acted in some way to impress them, it was their group that inspired him and made him want to be some kind of race martyr.
On his arrest in January of this year, his old friends mocked him as if what he had done was just Zack Davies being silly again.
They tampered with his Facebook account and changed his name. They mocked that he had converted to Islam, and that the attack on a Sikh man was some kind of “Jihad.”
In court, Davies described “Jihad John” as his inspiration and also said how National Action “admired” ISIS. Many National Action members and supporters even called their mission a “White Jihad,” and it seems Davies had taken it to heart. His comrades must have known full well what he was capable of doing. It must have been very amusing for them to make people think the attack in Mold was carried out by a Muslim extremist.
In itself, that almost had very damaging repercussions when the usual suspects, Nick Griffin, Robert Spencer, Stephen Lennon, Pam Gellar et al, took up the case. Thankfully, wise heads in the Sikh community contacted HOPE not hate for information to help inform those who were swayed by the malicious actions of Griffin, Lennon, Spencer, Gellar and co.
To this day, a series of counter-Jihad bloggers still asserts that Davies was a Muslim convert when he carried out his attack. After all, his actions were not the usual actions of a rabid, race-hating racist at all, were they?
For me, deep down, somewhere, I want to say “poor, silly Zack Davies,” like some have about poor, silly Talha Asmal.
I met people like him when I was in the far right many, many moons ago. They were keen to impress, acted the clown, but they never really fitted in for one reason or another. (Some of my ex-comrades say that even describes me.)
It certainly describes David Copeland, the former British National Party (BNP) member who carried out three bomb attacks in London in 1999, killing three people.
He didn’t fit in very well, apparently. He too carried out the sick fantasises of others who poisoned his mind but were too cowardly or comfortable to turn their own words into actions. Those actions were left to poor, silly, David Copeland.
No, we won’t hear those words for Zack Davies. We probably will not even know if his family is distraught at what he did.
According to one television reporter, both his parents are dead-despite the fact he claims his initial victim was to be his mother’s boyfriend. Another newspaper claims that Davies is actually the son of a local man who killed his girlfriend back in 2005. The police say the killer was his uncle and Zack’s father is actually in New Zealand having abandoned and disowned his son.
But we do know there will be more people willing to succeed where Davies failed or prepared to emulate what Copeland did. That’s a guarantee.
Davies had spent at least a good five years anonymously “trolling” the internet before taking up with National Action. All over the country there are people in prisons for plotting, planning and preparing racist terror attacks that we hardly ever hear or read about. It’s people like us-day in and day out keeping records, watching and recording what the purveyors of hatred say and write. We had never even heard of Zack Davies before he walked into Tesco in January of this year.
And there are others, probably on the internet right now, fantasising about murder and terrorism and encouraging other people to succeed. It’s them, I won’t pity