A PHD student who tried to wage a deadly race war by murdering an 82-year-old Muslim man and planting bombs near mosques has been jailed.
Ukrainian Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 40 years at the Old Bailey yesterday for killing Mohammed Saleem and causing the three blasts because he hated “non-whites”.
But he avoided a whole life term because Mr Justice Sweeney found he had acted alone and was driven by his own warped beliefs rather than furthering a wider cause.
Pensioner and 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 April 29.
Lapshyn told police 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 stuffed with shrapnel and experts said it had the potential to cause mass injuries and death. It was only because Lapshyn got the wrong time for Friday prayers the blast did not claim lives.
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 multi-cultural society.”
Mr Saleem’s daugher Shazia Khan was among relatives who watched from the public gallery as sentence was passed.
Mr Justice Sweeney read her victim impact statement that said the effect of her father’s violent death was “a rollercoaster experience where the ride will never end”.
She said: “The shock and sadness of the reality is impossible to accept, yet alone accept and move on. We can’t move forward, the murder has disabled our minds in every emotional way possible.
“Dad did not die of old age or illness, he died because he was stabbed violently in the back by a gutless coward who did not have the courage to face him before he took his life away.”
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC told the court Lapshyn had come to the UK as part of software firm Delcam’s sponsorship programme with the National Metallurgy Academy in Ukraine. The scheme was now under review following his horrifying crimes.
When police searched his room at Delcam they found a camera containing 455 photos and 98 videos featuring bomb-making and guns. There were also apparent anonymous notes he planned to use to taunt the police.
One featured a photograph of the hunting knife, next to which Lapshyn had written “Mohammed Saleem was killed by”.
Explaining why he had decided not to pass a whole life tariff, the judge said he believed Lapshyn has acted alone and was motivated by his own “extreme and appalling prejudices”.