Zack Davies guilty of ‘Lee Rigby Revenge’ attack – is it terrorism?

    Zack Davies guilty of ‘Lee Rigby Revenge’ attack – is it terrorism?

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    Photo from the BBC

    Introduction

    We are all familiar with the case of Lee Rigby (our latest update and links here). Zack Davies (a case that had slipped under our radar until today) decided on 14th January 2015 to take ‘revenge’ for this by attacking on Sarandev Bhambra, dentist in Mold with a machete and hammer.

    On 25th June 2015, Mr Davies was convicted of attempted murder.

     

    Facts

    The background and attitude of Mr Davies can be seen in the photograph heading this piece.

    On 14th January, Dr Bhambra was shopping in Tescos when Mr Davies came up behind him and attacked him with a machete. He cut him twice in the head (down to the scalp), once to the back which went down to the bone, and some other serious injuries.

    Dr Bhambra had to have extensive surgery and has still not fully recovered.

    The motives of Mr Davies were his extreme right view. During the attack, a witness described Mr Davies saying ““white power” and said Davies was acting “like a lunatic” as he hacked Dr Bhambra with the machete. Another witness heard Davies say: “Come here, this is for Lee Rigby“.

     

    Sentence

    Sentence has been adjourned until 11th September. The Judge has asked for psychiatric reports.

    There are sentencing guidelines for Attempted Murder. Looking at the table on page 7, this would be a Level 1 offence (because had Dr Bhambra been killed it would have come within para 5 Sch 21 as a racially aggravated murder).

    It sounds like, sadly, that there was “serious and long term physical or psychological harm”, giving a starting point of 30 years.

    I imagine that if there is not a Mental Health Act disposal, then the Judge will give very strong consideration to a discretionary life sentence. At the least, there will be an Extended Sentence as Mr Davies sounds a dangerous man.

    As to the term, we would think that the Judge will set it at around 30 years (so this would be halved if there is a life sentence).

     

    Was this a terrorist act?

    The family of the victim pointed out that “had the racial disposition of this case been reversed this would be reported as an act of terror”.

    The question of when a crime is an act of terrorism is one that has been much discussed recently given the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina.

    In many ways, this question is a political and social one, rather than a legal one. It doesn’t make any difference to the legal framework of the sentencing exercise – the fact that it was racially motivated is the key factor. And that fact will seriously aggravate the offence, whatever classification is put on it.

     

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    Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

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