Man charged with ‘terror’ murder of grandfather

Police forensic officers examine the scene in where Mr Saleem was killed as he returned home from a mosque. Picture:PAPolice forensic officers examine the scene in where Mr Saleem was killed as he returned home from a mosque. Picture:PA
Police forensic officers examine the scene in where Mr Saleem was killed as he returned home from a mosque. Picture:PA
A Ukrainian man appeared in court yesterday charged with the terror-related murder of an 82-year-old grandfather as he walked home from a mosque.

Pavlo Lapshyn, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk, is accused of killing Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in April.

The 25-year-old has also been charged with three further offences related to three separate explosions near mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

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Lapshyn, wearing a black round-neck top, his hair cropped, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth and to request to speak to his lawyer.

The student, who was in the UK on a sponsored work placement at a software firm based in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, was arrested on suspicion of Mr Saleem’s murder on 20 July.

The pensioner was fatally stabbed yards from his house as he walked home alone after worship, on 29 April, prompting an outpouring of grief.

The court heard Lapshyn is also charged with carrying out a series of acts with the intention to commit acts of terrorism between 24 April and 18 July, related to three separate explosions in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton.

They include purchasing batteries, a lunch bag, clock and container as part of the construction of an explosive device, carrying out internet research and visiting intended locations to plant explosive devices, purchasing chemicals to make explosive devices and modifying mobile phones to act as detonators, it is alleged.

Lapshyn is also charged with two separate offences of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion with the intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person or property on 21 June and 12 July, following the explosions in Walsall and Tipton respectively.

He was remanded in custody and will next appear at a bail hearing at the Old Bailey on 25 July. Lapshyn is also due to appear at a preliminary trial hearing at the Old Bailey on 2 August.

The stabbing of Mr Saleem, a highly regarded figure, was described by detectives at the time as a “despicable” attack on a defenceless pensioner.

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A second man arrested in connection with the mosque bombings has been released without charge.

The 22-year-old Ukrainian arrested last week is now helping counter-terrorism officers as a witness, West Midlands Police said.

He and Lapshyn were detained on 18 July on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

Following the men’s arrest, the “seat of an explosion and debris” were found on a roundabout near the Wolverhampton Central Mosque.

The remnants of a home-made explosive device were found outside a mosque in Walsall on 22 June, and another device, containing nails, exploded near a mosque in Tipton, on 12 July.

No-one was injured by any of the explosions.

Urgent response needed

A TOUGHER government response is needed in the wake of a “dramatic escalation in violence” against British Muslims, with a spate of alleged bomb attacks on mosques, the Muslim Council of Britain said last night.

The council’s secretary general, Farooq Murad, said the apparent targeting of three mosques in Tipton, Walsall and Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands, during Ramadan marked “the crossing of a red line”, following a series of violent attacks against Muslim communities in recent months.

He called for an “urgent, coordinated national response” from government, politicians, police and the security services in letters to both the Home Secretary and the communities secretary.

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Mr Murad said there had been a dozen incidences where mosques and Muslims had been targeted since the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May, including an arson attack on a North London mosque in June.

He said: “It cannot be right a minority community is allowed to be targeted in this manner.”

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