White supremacist Pavlo Lapshyn ‘admired Boston bombers’

Ukrainian killer jailed for minimum of 40 years after he tried to set off a race war with mosque blasts

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The Independent Online

A neo-Nazi was jailed for a minimum of 40 years today after spending more than a year planning a murderous bomb and knife campaign intended to spark a race war and drive Muslims from his neighbourhood.

Before leaving his native Ukraine Pavlo Lapshyn practised blowing up trees and researched sites in Birmingham to prepare for a solo campaign of violence as soon as he landed in Britain for a one-year placement at a software engineering firm.

It emerged yesterday that the 25-year-old had admired the Boston Marathon bombers – ethnic Chechens from Russia who left three dead and hundreds wounded. He had downloaded images of the 15 April attack and its aftermath – less than a fortnight before he arrived in Britain – on to his computer.

Lapshyn, an intelligent but aloof postgraduate student, bought and posed with a hunting knife and was “intent on finding a Muslim to murder”, Mr Justice Sweeney said as he jailed the Ukrainian for life. Lapshyn concealed the knife as he searched the streets so that the “enemy cannot see the position of the blade”, he told police.

Earlier this week Lapshyn admitted stabbing Mohammed Saleem, 82, three times in the back as the ailing Muslim walked back from Friday prayers. In a statement to the court, the victim’s family condemned the “gutless coward” who could not look his victim in the face as he murdered him. The court heard that he told police how he adjusted his stance to get better purchase to drive the knife into Mr Saleem’s body and one strike went right through his body.

The Old Bailey heard yesterday that his computer, camera and pen drives were filled with neo-Nazi literature and songs. When they raided his flat, officers found a folder marked “White World” on his computer. It included a violent video game called “Ethnic Cleansing”.

Another audio file entitled “You Must Murder” contained a racist rant by East European extremists calling for a violent race war.

Other pictures showed him posing with the hunting knife across his chest and apparently taking pride in what he had done. One picture showed a hunting knife with the caption: “Mohammed Saleem was stabbed by…”

A recovered camera memory card showed he had amassed 455 images and 90 videos of chemicals, guns and parts of explosive devices as he prepared for a bombing campaign. After the murder, Lapshyn detonated three increasingly powerful devices over three weeks close to mosques in the West Midlands. The final one, packed with nails, sent shrapnel over a wide area, but he had got the time of prayers wrong and nobody was hurt .

Mr Justice Sweeney said as he sentenced Lapshyn: “You clearly hold extreme 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, hatreds and motivation are abhorrent to all right thinking people, and have no place whatsoever in our multi-faith and multi-cultural society.”

Mr Saleem’s daughter Shazia, one of seven children, said her father’s murder had devastated the family and that his wife of more than 50 years still blamed herself for what had happened. “The murder has disabled our minds in every emotional way possible,” she said in an extract from a statement read out by the judge. “He died because he was stabbed violently in the back by a gutless coward who didn’t have the courage to face him before he took his life away.”