UKRAINIAN STUDENT ADMITS TO MURDER AND BOMB EXPLOSIONS

21.10.13


THE TELEGRAPH.  Ukrainian Pavlo Lapshyn claimed “racial hatred” drove him to kill 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem just days after arriving in the UK on a work placement.

He pleaded guilty to a number of terror charges at the Old Bailey today.

The PhD student, who police say was acting as a “lone wolf” terrorist, today admitted stabbing the defenceless grandfather three times in the back as he returned home from evening prayers at his local mosque last April.

Lapshyn went on to detonate three homemade bombs outside mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton in the West Midlands.

The Tipton device sprayed shrapnel more than 200 feet and could have killed and injured hundreds of Muslim worshipper, but for a blunder by the Ukrainian.

He timed the blast for 1pm, when worshippers would normally be arriving at the Mosque, but that day’s prayers had been put back an hour due to Ramadan.

Lapshyn later told detectives he had targeted the region’s Asian population due to “racism”.

During a police interview, the 25-year-old said: “I would like to increase racial conflict.”

He added: “I did it because they are not white and I am white.”

He also claimed he had planted three bombs because “a series of explosions may achieve more.”

The technology student later admitted: “My purpose was to commit a terrorist act.”

When asked why he had attacked Mr Saleem on April 29 he said: “I have a racial hatred, so I have a motivation, a racial motivation and a racial hatred.”

Officers who questioned Lapshyn after his arrest described him as “calm, calculated, committed” throughout the interview.

Lapshyn had arrived in the UK just five days before the brutal murder to take up a work placement with a company called Delcam Plc in the Small Heath area of Birmingham.

An examination of his computer revealed he had carried out extensive research into extremist right wing and white supremacist groups before the attacks.

Search teams also discovered extreme right wing literature such as the 1978 novel The Turner Diaries, in which a violent revolution evolves into a race war in the US and leads to the extermination of all non-white, gay and Jewish people.

He also viewed information about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

It is not known if Lapshyn had been planning the attacks before leaving his native Ukraine but officers said he was working as a “self-radicalised” lone agent.

Det Supt Shaun Edwards, who heads up West Midlands police counter terrorism unit, said: “Lapshyn himself insisted he was working alone and there is no evidence to suggest he was working with anyone else or was affiliated with any particular extremist groups.”

Police believe the murder of Mr Saleem was an opportunistic attack and not a pre-planned killing.

Det Supt Edwards said: “Mohammed Saleem was not specifically targeted, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Lapshyn said it was a random attack, he saw Mr Saleem, recognised him as a non-white person and took the opportunity to attack.”

Lapshyn, who had a Master's degree in the technology of machine building, made the bombs from chemicals and equipment he had purchased from the internet, local shops and market stalls after arriving in the UK.

His first device exploded on June 21 next to a mosque in Walsall then a week later he set off a bomb near a Wolverhampton mosque.

On July 12 he detonated a nail bomb next to a mosque in Tipton which blasted shrapnel and debris over a 230-foot area.

Lapshyn set off the Tipton device, which contained 600g of nails, at 1pm to coincide with daily prayers when hundreds of people would usually congregate at the mosque.

Fortunately, due to Ramadan, the mosque’s prayer time had been put back an hour to 2pm meaning the building and car park were empty when the device exploded.

“Luckily the bomb went off at 1pm.

“An hour later the building and car park outside would have been filled with people and cars,” said Dept Supt Edwards.

“At least 200 people attend prayers at the mosque and during Ramadan this could go up into thousands.”

He added: “He increased the amount of explosive that he put in each bomb. He openly admitted he wanted the Tipton bomb to hurt people.”

Police initially linked Lapshyn to the Walsall bombing using CCTV which showed a man arriving at the scene with a children's “Shark” lunch box containing the bomb and leaving empty-handed a few minutes later.

They trawled through thousands of hours of footage from all over the area to trace the unknown man back to the Small Heath area of Birmingham, where Lapshyn was living in accommodation provided by his employers.

Community policing teams finally uncovered Lapshyn's identity when they presented CCTV images of him at Delcam's offices on July 18.

Lapshyn was arrested the same day in connection with the Walsall bomb and immediately admitted to the attack.

During his questioning he also informed police that he had been behind the Tipton bombing and the mystery explosion in Wolverhampton.

Subsequent searches of his room and computer revealed material linking him to the murder of Mr Saleem.

When confronted with this evidence on July 20, Lapshyn admitted killing the grandfather and was charged with his murder.

He first appeared at the Old Bailey on July 25 and was remanded in custody

Lapshyn came to the UK after winning third place in a competition for a work placement at Delcam, where colleagues described him as a “loner”.

He had been awarded a Master's degree with honours from Ukraine’s Natural Metallurgical Academy in 2010 before starting his PhD.

He then won the scholarship to come to the UK in 2011 but it is not known if he started planning his attacks before arriving.

West Midland Police are working closely with their Ukrainian counterparts to build up a picture of Lapshyn’s life before he came to Britain.

By Miranda Prynne, and Tom Whitehead

See also: BBC News

 



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