The video, taken in darkness, is narrated by a lone middle-aged man, speaking in a quiet monotone. It’s ten past one in the morning, he tells us. He felt compelled to come and make a video outside this school “during the hours of darkness”.
“What’s gone on in this school in the last 12 years has been revealed to me in the past few days”, he says. The conduct of staff here has been “nothing short of evil”. Parents and children have come forward and given him information, which has been referred to the police.
“I will expose the evil within this school”, he says. “I will expose the people who facilitated this evil. I will expose the people who’ve ignored the children, who’ve covered up the most appalling abuses”. These people, he says, are working in the school, in the police, in safeguarding.
“I will see justice done for the children who’ve been hurt”, the man says. “I will make sure the truth is heard, because the truth will set us free”.
Anybody familiar with the Hampstead SRA hoax could be forgiven for assuming that this eerie two-minute video was filmed outside the school which was at the centre of the hoax, by one of those obsessed with the belief that it was a hub of child sexual abuse, baby sacrifice, and blood-drinking.
However, the school in this undated video is—was—located in Cheshire, not north London. It was the work of a man named Philip Day, who had become obsessed with the idea that students at the University of Chester Academy at Northwich (UCAN) were being sexually abused in what he called a “playground for paedophiles”.
When he first made the allegations in 2010, police investigated but found no evidence that Day’s claims were true.
Day – described by the CPS as a ‘driven man’ who quoted the Bible and used God to justify his actions – even turned up at two open events at the school for prospective pupils and their parents.
On one occasion he was aggressive and caused fear and alarm to staff, parents and children, some of whom were as young as eight and nine.
Prior to this, he had been charged with making threats to kill a teacher, but he was acquitted in July 2017.
However, he was convicted of harassing another teacher that he claimed had been involved in the abuse of a pupil.
It was after his acquittal that his social media campaign against the teacher concerned, the school, the police and safeguarding began in earnest.
According to the Manchester Evening News,
Day – who claimed in court that God would justify his actions – insisted there had been a cover up. Police say he then launched a ‘personal crusade’ in a bid to achieve his own justice.
Over the following years Day stalked school staff, specifically the headteacher and a teacher he claimed had sexually abused a pupil at the school.
He posted messages and videos on social media naming the teacher and falsely claimed that children had been harmed at the academy.
In one post he claimed the school was a “playground for paedophiles” and named members of staff who he thought were involved.
Earlier this week, Day was found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, arson, and two counts of stalking. He was acquitted of one count of burglary.
Day’s obsessiveness, his determination to unearth imagined paedophilia, his insistence that it was all part of a cover-up, even the seeming inability of police intervention to make an appreciable dent in his one-man war against a school…it’s all depressingly familiar.
However, Day’s campaign went a step further.
In February 2018, he stepped up his campaign. He was interviewed by police, but released. On 25 February, Day set 17 fires in different locations in the school, including the roof.
He was seen by people living nearby ‘calmly strolling around the school grounds’ carrying a jerry can as the roof was on fire.
The resulting blaze, which destroyed the school, required 50 firefighters to put it out, and resulted in £2.4 million in damage.
Quoting Paul Binyon of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Liverpool Echo said:
“Arson is a serious crime and the fire at the school in Northwich was significant and is one of the worst incidents I have ever had to deal with.
“When firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had already taken hold and the building was heavily smoke logged, including an on-site flat where the caretaker had been sleeping, who suffered inhalation of smoke when discovering the fire.
In a curious twist, Day was found to have also torched a 700-year-old house in Essex just a couple of months earlier. Although he was married, he had begun a relationship with a woman who used online posts to accuse a man of having sexually abused her; Day had backed his new girlfriend up.
The police say that these accusations were unfounded, but Day believed the accused man was sleeping in the house he’d set ablaze.
So a man quoted the Bible to justify his all-out assault on a blameless school community, as well as on an individual falsely accused of sexual abuse. He claimed to be “exposing evil” and uncovering a conspiracy involving police, teachers, and the area’s safeguarding officer.
His actions caused not only millions of pounds’ worth of physical damage, but untold emotional pain to those whose lives he disrupted.
Only hours after setting the Essex house on fire, Day posted on social media that his New Year’s resolution was to “work for children”.
No, we don’t notice any parallels to Hampstead. Do you?