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26 April 2024

Reading terror attack families ‘trusting’ inquest judge to provide answers

26 April 2024

The father of a Reading terror attack victim said relatives are trusting the judge to make recommendations at the inquest conclusion that will “prevent other families from facing the pain, heartbreak and loss that we must live with every day”.

Judge Coroner Sir Adrian Fulford is expected to deliver his findings at the Old Bailey on Friday after inquest proceedings were held into the deaths of James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, who were murdered by Khairi Saadallah on June 20, 2020.

Gary Furlong, the father of James, said outside the Old Bailey on Friday morning: “It is now almost four years since our boys, James, Joseph and David were taken from us in the murderous terror attack by Khairi Saadallah in Forbury Gardens.

“We waited patiently while the criminal trial and appeal by Saadallah ran their course. We have listened to six weeks of evidence at the inquest into our boys’ deaths.

“Now, finally, today is the day we have waited for since June 2020. Today we are trusting the judge coroner to give us answers about the deaths of James, Joseph and David.

“Most of all, we are trusting him to make recommendations that will keep us all safer and to prevent other families from facing the pain, heartbreak and loss that we must live with every day.”

Libyan refugee Saadallah shouted “Allahu akhbar” as he fatally stabbed the three friends in the town’s Forbury Gardens.

Three other people – Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan – were also injured before Saadallah threw away the 8in (20cm) knife and ran off, being chased by an off-duty police officer.

Since arriving in Britain in 2012, Saadallah was convicted of various offences including theft and assault.

Staff members in probation, immigration, police and MI5 all gave evidence to the inquest over the course of a number of weeks earlier this year – with one probation witness breaking down in court as she recalled unknowingly “managing an unconvicted murderer”.

The inquest also heard the Home Office dealt with Saadallah with “woeful inadequacy” before the killings, when the director of the department’s Foreign National Offenders Returns Command answered questions.

A counsellor said he “harassed” mental health services to examine the terror attacker in the year before the killings, with his mental state forming a large part of proceedings.

Thames Valley Police failed to find a knife at Saadallah’s home during a welfare check the day before he carried out the attacks, because officers were not told he was threatening to harm himself and others, the hearing was told.

The inquest at the Old Bailey also heard the terrorist was “in limbo” for a number of years as his asylum application in the UK was refused, and he was also ineligible for deportation to Libya because of the country’s civil war.

In January 2021, the killer was handed a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

Saadallah lost a bid to bring a Court of Appeal challenge against his whole-life sentence for the murders in October of the same year.

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