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Mosque murder suspect faces terror charge in Manchester court

25-year-old also charged with three offences related to separate explosions near mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton

A Ukrainian man has appeared in court 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.

Lapshyn, wearing a black round-neck top with short-cropped hair, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth and to request to speak to his lawyer during the 10-minute hearing, while he was accompanied by a team of police and security guards.

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 just yards from his house as he walked home alone after worship, on April 29, prompting an outpouring of grief from the community where he lived.

The court heard Lapshyn is also charged with carrying out a series of acts with the intention to commit acts of terrorism between April 24 and July 18, 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.

Lapshyn is also charged with two separate offences of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion with the intent to danger life or cause serious injury to a person or property on June 21 and July 12, 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 July 25.

Lapshyn is also due to appear at a preliminary trial hearing at the Old Bailey on August 2.

The stabbing of Mr Saleem, a highly-regarded and well-known figure in the local community, was described by detectives at the time as a "despicable" attack on a defenceless pensioner.

A joint family statement read during a press conference at West Midlands Police headquarters on May 2 described Mr Saleem as "a much-loved and respected community member".

The statement read: "We can't express our feelings of sadness and devastation.

"It's hard to accept that our beloved father and grandfather has been taken from us in such a brutal way."

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

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

The pair were initially detained on July 18 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.

Police believe the debris came from a device that exploded on the city's Fiveways roundabout at about 9.15am on June 28.

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

No one was injured by any of the explosions.