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Man sentenced over worshipper death
A student who tried to start a race war by murdering a Muslim pensioner and planting bombs near three mosques is facing a life sentence today.
Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, a postgraduate student from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey after admitting the murder of Mohammed Saleem as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham in April.
He also admitted causing an explosion on July 12 near the Kanzal Iman mosque in Tipton, and engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between April 24 and July 18 this year.
The hate-filled extremist is facing a life sentence, but is unlikely to be given a whole-life term by Mr Justice Sweeney partly because of a European Court ruling that found the punishment breaches defendants' human rights.
Lapshyn had been in the UK for only five days when he killed Mr Saleem, later telling police he picked the frail pensioner because he had a racial hatred of "non-whites".
The Ukrainian was in the UK on a sponsored work placement at a software firm in the Small Heath area of Birmingham when he carried out his bloody campaign.
Pensioner and father-of-seven Mr Saleem was stabbed three times yards from his house as he walked home alone after worship on April 29, prompting an outpouring of grief from the community.
While Lapshyn remained at large, he plotted the planting of devices near three mosques as part of a campaign he said was motivated by racial hatred.
He planted his first two devices in June - one that exploded outside a mosque in Walsall in the West Midlands, and a second that was planted on a roundabout opposite the Wolverhampton Central Mosque.
It was only by chance that the third device, which was loaded with shrapnel, failed to cause mass casualties when Lapshyn got the wrong time for Friday prayers at the Kanzul Iman mosque.
Police found materials for another three devices when they searched his home.
On Monday following Lapshyn's guilty plea, Mr Saleem's daughter Shazia Khan said: '' Our dad was a lovely, kind man who left prayers for the last time that night. He did not do anything to deserve this horrific killing other than being a Muslim.
''He was targeted simply because of his faith. His beard and his clothing represented who he was. Pavlo chose to kill him that night with only that intention in mind.
''Hopefully he will get the sentence that he deserves and he will never be able to commit crimes like this again."
West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: "It was a particularly nasty case.
''His motivation was very much that he thought the white man was better than everybody else and he was attacking for that reason. We know he killed a perfectly innocent man walking back home from prayers who had no chance to fight back at all.''
Lapshyn had previously received the Ukrainian equivalent of a police caution for causing an explosion at his own home.