Man shocked by son's murder charge
A man whose son is accused of murdering a Muslim pensioner and carrying out a series of explosions near mosques has spoken of his "complete shock" over the news.
Ukrainian Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, was remanded in custody at the Old Bailey, charged with the murder of 82-year-old grandfather Mohammed Saleem as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham in April. The postgraduate student, from Dnipropetrovsk, is also charged with three further offences related to separate explosions in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton in June and July.
Speaking to the BBC in the Ukraine, the student's father, Sergey Lapshyn, said his son had been "excited and happy" in his first week in the UK.
Mr Lapshyn said: "He was very excited and happy in the first week there that it is hard to believe that a person who feels this happy could do something out of the ordinary."
He added: "I just don't believe he could kill an old man. It just doesn't make sense. I don't believe that he was also involved in some explosions. All things may happen in life but I just don't believe he could kill."
The 25-year-old appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link from Belmarsh prison in south-east London. His case was adjourned to August 2 when an application for bail is expected to be made. The defendant, wearing black trousers and a black T-shirt, spoke only to confirm his name during the brief hearing.
Lapshyn, 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 July 20. 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.
Lapshyn is also alleged to have carried out a series of acts with the intention to commit acts of terrorism between April 24 and July 18, relating to the 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, it is alleged.
Lapshyn is also charged with two separate offences of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion with the intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person or property on June 21 and July 12, following the explosions in Walsall and Tipton respectively.
A 22-year-old Ukrainian man who was also arrested in connection with the mosque bombings has since been released without charge. No-one was injured in any of the explosions.