Pavlo Lapshyn

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Pavlo Lapshyn
Pavlo Lapshyn.jpg
Mugshot of Lapshyn after his arrest
Pavlo Sergiyovich Lapshyn

(1988-03-12) 12 March 1988 (age 31)
OccupationPost-graduate engineering student
Criminal penaltyLife, with a minimum of 40 years
Date29 April to 12 July 2013
Location(s)Small Heath, Birmingham
Killed1 (Mohammed Saleem)
WeaponsDagger, home-made explosives
Date apprehended
18 July 2013

Pavlo Serhiyovych Lapshyn (born 12 March 1988; Ukrainian Cyrillic: Павло Сергійович Лапшин[2]) is a Ukrainian right wing terrorist who committed crimes in 2013 against Muslims in the United Kingdom. Lapshyn was given a life sentence, and will serve a minimum of 40 years,[3] for a murder in Birmingham and three attempted bombings of mosques in the West Midlands. He confessed to police that his motivation was to kill and harm Muslims.[3]


Lapshyn was on work experience at Delcam in Birmingham when he committed his attacks.

Pavlo Lapshyn is from Dnipro, the son of Sergey Lapshyn, a university lecturer. Lapshyn's father claims his son is not a racist, and said Pavlo knew his grandmother was a member of the (largely Muslim) Tatar community.[4]

Lapshyn studied engineering in his home city at the National Metallurgical Academy of Ukraine. In 2009 he earned a BA with honours, and completed a Master's degree the following year. He then began to pursue a doctorate. Lapshyn was arrested in August 2010 after inadvertently causing an explosion in his family's apartment. Lapshyn had been experimenting with bomb-making chemicals while his family was on holiday. There is a short video he took of one explosion in Ukraine.[5] During another experimentation, an explosion blew him across the room and caused severe damage to the apartment. Lapshyn told investigators he had been trying to make fireworks, and was fined over the incident.[6][irrelevant citation]

During his doctoral studies, Lapsyhn entered a competition to exchange with Coventry University and partake in work experience at Delcam - a software company based in the Birmingham neighbourhood of Small Heath, an area of East Birmingham 'which has a significant and visible Muslim population.'[7] He was accepted after coming in third place for his work on 3D modelling and computer programming. Lapshyn arrived in Birmingham on 24 April 2013, and stayed in a flat inside Delcam's headquarters.[8][9] Colleagues described him as shy, yet polite.[10]


Murder of Mohammed Saleem[edit]

At around 10 pm on 29 April 2013, five days after his arrival in the United Kingdom, Lapshyn stabbed 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem to death as the pensioner returned from Green Lane Mosque in Small Heath. Saleem had been walking alone near his Small Heath home when he was spotted by Lapshyn, who was carrying a knife. Lapshyn later told detectives that he decided to kill Saleem because he "was a Muslim and there were no witnesses." Lapshyn stabbed Saleem three times in the back.[6]

Local opinion was that Saleem had been murdered by a member of the anti-Islamist street protest movement, the English Defence League (EDL), after six Muslims had been convicted for attempting to bomb one of their rallies.[11] Shazia Khan, a daughter of Saleem, claimed that her brother had received increasingly threatening letters purporting to be from the EDL. One of them stated: "It has come to our attention that you are training terrorists at your premises. We will not tolerate any terrorist activities on our soil. We urge you to close this gym as soon as possible." The letters were said to date from September 2012, before Lapshyn's arrival.[12]

Due to post-mortem investigations, Saleem was not given a funeral until 13 July. Approximately 5,000 attended the service at his mosque.[13]

Bombing attempts[edit]

Lapshyn attempted three bombings on local mosques, targeting Friday lunchtimes as they are the services with highest attendance.[10] The first was laid outside a mosque in Walsall on 21 June 2013, and police investigations led to 40 homes being evacuated.[14] The second was laid outside Wolverhampton Central Mosque on 28 June, but not reported until after the other two because police failed to recognise that a bomb had caused debris on a traffic island near the Wolverhampton mosque until Lapshyn's arrest. Officers were called to the scene after it had detonated on Friday 28 June, but they were not specialists and did not realise the significance of the type of debris.[7][15] The third bomb was placed in Tipton on 12 July and went off one hour after prayers ended, with no-one injured,[15] which coincided with the funeral of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed by Islamic extremists in an attack at Woolwich, London.[16]

The investigation seized and examined thousands of hours of CCTV, much of it from commercial premises along the exit route and were able to pick out a suspect, going to and from the site of the last attack using the bus network.[17] The final journey was to the Small Heath area. Images were publicly broadcast, but no-one called in to identify him. Local officers visited local premises and finally came to Delcam - where Lapshyn was identified and soon after was arrested peacefully.[7]

Arrest and trial[edit]

Lapshyn was tried at the Old Bailey in London

Lapshyn was arrested and questioned over the explosions and the murder of Saleem on 18 July 2013. He admitted all the bombings and two days later the murder of Saleem.[17]

For the explosions, he was charged under section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 and section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act 2006. He pleaded guilty to all charges on 21 October 2013.[18]

Lapshyn was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London on 25 October 2013. The court was cordoned off after a suspicious device was found.[3] Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said that police searches of Lapshyn's flat had found photographs of him posing with the dagger with which he had killed Saleem, as well as white supremacist literature and video games. Wright argued for a whole-life order;[19] however, Lapshyn was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 40 years served, meaning he will not be released before 2053.[18]

Hanif Khan, a son-in-law of Saleem, stated after sentencing that "We're in the hands of the judge – 40 years is still a long time and he’ll be 65 when he gets out. We’ve lost a beloved person. Hopefully now we can get some closure".[19]


  1. ^ a b Lumb, David (21 October 2013). "Pavlo Lapshyn's 90 days of terror". BBC News.
  2. ^ "МІНІСТЕРСТВО ОСВІТИ І НАУКИ, МОЛОДІ ТА СПОРТУ УКРАЇНИ". Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Black Country mosque bomber Pavlo Lapshyn jailed for life". Express & Star. 25 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Mosque bomber Pavlo Lapshyn given life for murder". BBC News. 25 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Video: Pavlo Lapshyn jailed for 40 years over Mohammed Saleem murder and mosque bombings". 25 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Ukrainian student in one man racist reign of terror targeting Black Country mosques". Express & Star. 22 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Dodd, Vikram (21 October 2013). "Pavlo Lapshyn, the 'shy and polite' student turned terrorist". The Guardian.
  8. ^ "Mosque bomber given life for murder". BBC News. 25 October 2013.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Nick (22 October 2013). "Pavlo Lapshyn: Academic loner inspired by Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh". Birmingham Mail.
  10. ^ a b Dodd, Vikram (21 October 2013). "Pavlo Lapshyn, the 'shy and polite' student turned terrorist". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Bassey, Amardeep (5 May 2013). "Muslim community fears 'revenge' attacks after murder of Small Heath pensioner". Birmingham Mail.
  12. ^ "Daughter of Mohammed Saleem criticises West Midlands Police". BBC News. 24 May 2013.
  13. ^ Richards, Andy (14 July 2013). "Thousands pack funeral for Birmingham pensioner stabbed in the back". Birimingham Mail.
  14. ^ "Bomb left outside Walsall's Aisha mosque". BBC News. 23 June 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Explosion at third mosque". ITV Central News. 20 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Thousands at Lee Rigby's funeral". BBC News. 12 July 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Ukrainian student in one man racist reign of terror targeting Black Country mosques". Express & Star. 22 October 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Terror killer Pavlo Lapshyn jailed for minimum of 40 years". West Midlands Police. 25 October 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Mohammed Saleem family say terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn is gutless coward". Express & Star. 26 October 2013.

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