UK & World News
Mosque Blasts: Ukrainian Student Pleads Guilty
A Ukrainian man has pleaded guilty to murdering a Muslim pensioner and plotting to carry out a string of explosions near mosques.
Pavlo Lapshyn, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk, appeared at the Old Bailey charged with the murder of 82-year-old grandfather Mohammed Saleem as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham in April.
He also admitted causing an explosion on July 12 near the Kanzal Iman mosque in Tipton, and engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between April 24 and July 18 this year.
This included planting bombs near mosques in Walsall and Wolverhampton, researching locations to plant bombs and buying chemicals on the internet to make explosives.
Lapshyn, who arrived in the country only five days before the killing, later told police: "I have a racial hatred, so I have a motivation, a racial motivation and racial hatred."
The 25-year-old will be sentenced on Friday.
The Ukrainian was in the UK on a sponsored work placement at a software firm in the Small Heath area of Birmingham when he was arrested on suspicion of Mr Saleem's murder nearby on July 20.
The father-of-seven was stabbed three times yards from his house on April 29, which prompted an outpouring of grief from the community.
While Lapshyn remained at large, he plotted the planting of devices near three mosques. With each attack the homemade bombs, with timing devices, became ever more powerful.
In the attack on the mosque in Tipton, Lapshyn loaded the device with nails. Luckily no one was injured.
The bomb exploded at 1pm, the time worshippers would normally be at Friday prayers. Because of Ramadan the prayers were put back to 2pm and police said this may have saved a lot of people from death or serious injury.
No one was injured by any of the explosions.
Lapshyn has been described as a "lone actor" with no apparent affiliation to any extreme right wing groups.
The self-radicalised racist believed that a series of explosions would spread more panic and fear.
In police interviews he said: "I would like to increase racial conflit ... because they are not white and I am white."
Police trawled through thousands of hours of CCTV to track Lapshyn's movements.
When he was arrested, bomb-making equipment, including chemicals components from mobile phones were found at his flat.
Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards said: "The words of the interviewing officers were calm, calculated and committed.
"He is a man with hatred of non-white people, coupled together with his skills in relation to creating bombs and actually being in the country for five days and to murder someone.
"From his premises he had other devices, other components of devices. He could have carried on with his campaign. If it wasn't for that intervention at the time he was arrested, this could have been much worse."
Speaking outside court, Mr Saleem's daughter Shazia Khan said it was "a relief not to have to sit through a long and tedious trial and listen to horrific details of this violent crime".
"Our dad was a lovely, kind man who left prayers for the last time that night. He did not do anything to deserve this horrific killing other than being a Muslim.
"He was targeted simply because of his faith. His beard and his clothing represented who he was. Pavlo chose to kill him that night with only that intention in mind.
"Hopefully he will get the sentence that he deserves and he will never be able to commit crimes like this again."
She added that when she saw Lapshyn in court, she pitied him: "We just looked at him and we felt pity. He looked pathetic. He looked frightened and stressed."
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "This is a satisfying outcome to a highly distressing case where Pavlo Lapshyn's hatred has robbed a family of a loved one and attempted to cause fear and division within our communities.
"I pay tribute to the work of West Midlands Police in bringing the perpetrator to justice and commend the resilience of communities across the West Midlands who showed such courage in the face of these cowardly attacks."