Ukrainian jailed for life for killing Muslim, planting bombs in UK

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 25, 2013 11:22 AM
Ukrainian jailed for life for killing Muslim, planting bombs in UK

By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) - A Ukrainian man who murdered an elderly Muslim five days after arriving in Britain and planted bombs outside mosques was jailed for life on Friday.

Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, admitted stabbing the Muslim grandfather three times in the back and setting explosive devices which exploded near mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton in central England.

No one was injured in the blasts but police said more attacks would probably have followed after they found chemicals and bomb-making equipment at his home in searches following his arrest in July.

Trawling Lapshyn's laptop computer, officers identified far-right material including white supremacist video games such as "Ethnic Cleansing", where players are tasked with murdering non-Caucasians, the jury at London's Old Bailey court was told.

In Britain on a one-year visa after winning a work placement competition with a manufacturing company, Lapshyn conducted a one-man hate campaign. Described as "insular" by colleagues, he had researched where to buy bomb-making equipment in Birmingham before even being granted permission to come to Britain.

Five days after arriving, he stabbed 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem, who was wearing traditional Muslim dress as he walked home from a mosque.

When questioned by the police, Lapshyn said his motivation was "racism" and he hoped the attacks would ratchet up tension in a multicultural part of Britain with a large Islamic community. "The Muslims will have to leave our area," he said.

In sentencing, Judge Nigel Sweeney said Lapshyn would have to serve at least 40 years before he could be considered for release. "Such views, hatreds and motivation are abhorrent to all right-thinking people, and have no place whatsoever in our multi-faith and multicultural society," he said.

Attacks on British Muslims and Islamic institutions surged following the murder of a British soldier on the street in Woolwich, south London, in May, which prompted demonstrations by extreme-right and anti-Islamic groups.

An hour after the funeral of the soldier, Lee Rigby, Lapshyn detonated a nail bomb at a mosque in Walsall which sent debris flying across a car park. The attack occurred on a Friday, the weekly Muslim prayer day, but few worshippers were about as the service had been put back an hour.

Police said they had found images of the Boston marathon bombing on Lapshyn's computer at his home, as well as chemicals and mobile phones adapted for use as detonators.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)