'With Jesus there's always hope' - Daz's story
Years back, Daz was known in the media as ‘the screwdriver killer’. Now his life has seen a dramatic transformation, writes Paul Warwick.
He was 19 when he killed someone by stabbing them in the head with a screwdriver. At the time of the killing he was already on bail for GBH, after he stabbed someone in the stomach with a knife.
Bizarrely, at the time of the first incident he’d been attending a church Alpha course, which he says his Christian girlfriend – now his wife – had nagged him into attending.
After the later killing Daz was charged with murder and remanded to a young offenders prison. Whilst there he soon started becoming mentally ill, had a breakdown, and was transferred to a secure psychiatric hospital. When he later appeared at the Old Bailey for trial he was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Daz then spent four years detained in a psychiatric unit. He is now 30 years old, married to the woman who got him along to Alpha, and they have two sons. Daz has two jobs, and for several years he’s been running The Freedom Forum bible study group (pictured) at Christ Church Anerley, every Thursday. And for more than a year now he’s also started a social group that starts at 12, before the afternoon bible study.
Many of the people who attend the social and bible study group have been in prison, hospital and some of them are mentally ill. Daz also started a Monday car washing business based at the church car park, and it employs some of the people who attend his groups. Initially it was just Daz who ran the bible study, but gradually he’s built up a team of four, who take turns leading the study, and picking people up to bring them to the group and driving them home.
The social and bible study group has gradually grown and there are many regulars, and at the bible study there are usually up to 18 people who attend.
In 2016 Daz received a runner-up award for The Freedom Forum project, at the Inspire Awards, held at The Houses of Parliament.
When collecting his award, Daz in his usual self deprecating style said to the audience, “I’ve got nothing to offer. It’s all for Jesus.” And holding up his award he added, “If I could, I’d just leave it for him (Jesus) really.”
As well as leading The Freedom Forum, Daz also regularly preaches in church, organises outreach events, where he often performs plays and comedy sketches that he’s written, and gets other church members to act with him. And Daz is also currently studying for a qualification in Theology.
Daz is an extremely loving, bright and intelligent communicator – an incredible transformation from the mentally ill killer with a diminished mind to the loving husband, father, worker, student and Christian leader that he is today.
When Daz initially got remanded in custody and transferred to a psychiatric unit after doctors diagnosed him as suffering from schizo affective disorder and judged him to be insane, he found the psychiatric institution to be more relaxed than prison, and whilst there he started to read the Bible regularly.
The Holy Spirit started awakening and rebuilding his mind. When he’d been a criminal he didn’t care about anyone, and was mainly concerned with getting a criminal reputation, protecting himself and getting revenge on anyone who crossed him.
In the psychiatric unit though, he made a proper commitment to give his life to Jesus, and because he’d started to read the Bible daily, It put light and love in his heart and mind, replacing the hatred, fear and vulnerability that he’d felt as a young dangerous criminal.
As Daz started becoming well again, he was able to study at the psychiatric hospital and gain his first qualifications.
When I asked Daz what he would like to say to anyone reading this article, he replied, “You can literally be in the blackest hole, in the most insane place, in the darkest of times, but with Jesus there’s always hope.”
You can see a 33-minute documentary about Daz on YouTube here.
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