Man accused of stabbing three friends to death in Reading park attack

June 29, 2020 12:04:06 PM

A man accused of stabbing three friends to death while shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a suspected terror attack has appeared in court.

Khairi Saadallah, 25, is charged with murdering James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, with a large kitchen knife in Reading’s Forbury Gardens shortly before 7pm on Saturday June 20.

History teacher Mr Furlong and Mr Ritchie-Bennett, a US citizen, were each stabbed once in the neck while scientist Mr Wails was stabbed once in his back. They were each declared dead at the scene.

From left, Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails
From left, Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails (Family Handout/PA)

Saadallah is also charged with attempting to murder their friend Stephen Young as well as Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan, who were also sat in the park in a nearby group, during an attack lasting less than two minutes.

Mr Young needed 28 stitches after he was knifed once in his head while Mr Edwards was stabbed in the back and Mr Nisudan suffered wounds to his face and hand. They have all since been released from hospital.

Saadallah, who came to the UK from Libya as a refugee in 2012, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday by video-link from Coventry Magistrates’ Court, close to where he was being held in police custody.

Wearing a grey, prison-issue tracksuit and blue facemask, he stood in the dock to confirm his name, date of birth and that he lived in Reading.

Court artist sketch of Khairi Saadallah appearing via video-link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Court artist sketch of Khairi Saadallah appearing via video-link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Prosecutor Jan Newbold told the court Saadallah is alleged to have bought the murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, from a supermarket the day before the attack, which was declared a terrorist incident.

She said he began to stab his alleged victims “without warning or provocation” adding: “At the time of the incident, the defendant was heard to shout words to the effect of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).”

Saadallah, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, did not enter pleas to three charges of murder and three of attempted murder during a hearing lasting less than 10 minutes.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot remanded him in custody until Wednesday, when he will next appear at the Old Bailey.

Saadallah stood in the dock as she told him: “I’m sending this case to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey. You will be there, almost definitely, by video-link in two days.”

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