Ukrainian suspect's father reveals murder case 'shock'

Sergey Lapshyn says news of his son has left him in shock

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The father of a Ukrainian man charged with the "terrorist-related" murder of an 82-year-old in Birmingham has said the news left him in "complete shock".

Postgraduate student Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, was arrested after Mohammed Saleem was stabbed as he walked home after prayers from a mosque on 29 April.

He was remanded in custody by a court, also accused of causing three explosions.

Sergey Lapshyn told the BBC he "didn't believe his son could kill".

Speaking in Ukraine, he said his son arrived in the UK five days before the attack to begin a work placement with a software company.

"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," Mr Lapshyn said.

'Brief conversation'

He said his son "always kept things to himself, he wasn't a very social person - to put it mildly. You had to try really hard to strike up a conversation with him".

But 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."

He said: "I took the news as any father would... the situation was not clear, some media reported one thing, and then more details came up."

Asked whether he spoke to his son ahead of his trip to the UK, Sergey Lapshyn said: "Frankly, there was no time for that. My wife was at a hospital, her nerves were shattered and I had to comfort her all the time.... We didn't speak a lot at the time."

But he said after his son - who also faces a fourth charge of intending to commit acts of terrorism - was arrested he had received a telephone call from him on his mobile phone.

"It was a very brief conversation. He simply told me not to worry, said that he was given a lawyer, and he kept talking about how his parents must be upset."

Pavlo Lapshyn, who comes from the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, was remanded in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on Thursday 25 July

He is charged with Mr Saleem's murder in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, as well as causing explosions on 21 June and 12 July, and under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 with intending to commit acts of terrorism between 24 April and 18 July.

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