A UKRAINIAN racist who murdered a Muslim pensioner in Birmingham within five days of entering Britain and went on to plant three bombs near mosques has been jailed for a minimum term of 40 years.
Student Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, told police he murdered frail Mohammed Saleem, 82, because he hated “non-whites”.
Father-of-seven Mr Saleem, who walked with a stick, was stabbed three times yards from his house as he walked home after worship on 29 April.
Lapshyn told police that he had wanted to stab him in the heart. While he was at large for the killing, he planted three bombs near mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton in the West Midlands. The third device, that exploded near the Kanzul Iman mosque in Tipton, was packed with shrapnel.
It was only because Lapshyn got the wrong time for Friday prayers that the blast did not cause mass injuries.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Sweeney told him: “You clearly hold extremist right-wing, white supremacist views and you were motivated to commit the offences by religious and racial hatred in the hope that you would ignite racial conflict and cause Muslims to leave the area where you were living.
“Such views, hatred and motivations have no place whatsoever in our multi-faith and multicultural society.”
Mr Saleem’s daughter Shazia Khan was among relatives who watched from the public gallery as sentence was passed.
After the verdict she said that her mother cannot accept the death of her husband of more than 50 years, and is haunted by thoughts that she could have saved him. “She weeps to this day. She was minutes away and will always blame herself. ”
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC told the court PhD student Lapshyn had come to the UK as part of software firm Delcam’s sponsorship programme with the National Metallurgy Academy in Ukraine. The scheme is now under review.
When police searched his room at Delcam they found a camera containing 455 photos and 98 videos featuring bomb-making and guns, including clips of Lapshyn testing homemade explosive devices.
They also found extremist material, including a video game called Ethnic Cleansing, as well as a picture of Lapshyn posing with the hunting knife that he used to kill Mr Saleem.
The judge said he had not given Lapshyn a whole-life term as he did not appear to have killed to further any wider cause. He added: “It seems to me that you were acting alone and motivated by your own extreme and appalling prejudices. ”