Reading stabbings: Khairi Saadallah charged with murder

2 weeks ago
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A man has been charged with the murder of three men who were stabbed to death in a public park in Reading.

Khairi Saadallah is accused of killing James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on 20 June. The attack in Forbury Gardens was later declared a terrorist incident.

Mr Saadallah, 25, has also been charged with three counts of attempted murder, Thames Valley Police said.

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The 25-year-old came to the UK from Libya in 2012. He originally claimed asylum and was given leave to remain in 2018.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East continues to lead the investigation.

The three friends each died of a single stab wound, post-mortem examinations have shown.

Mr Furlong was head of history and government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham. His parents said their son was “beautiful, intelligent, honest and fun” and “will live in our hearts forever”.

Mr Ritchie-Bennett was a US citizen who moved to the UK 15 years ago. His father Robert Ritchie told US TV network CBS the family was “heartbroken” and said his son, who was originally from Philadelphia, was “brilliant and loving”.

And scientist Mr Wails was described as “always happy” and a person who “always made people smile”.

Three other people hurt in the attack have since left hospital.

Virtual vigil

Members of the victims’ families lit candles at a vigil in Reading, which the local council streamed online.

It began at 19:00 BST, marking a week since the attack.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was among officials at the vigil in Market Place. People who took part in the virtual memorial were encouraged to light a candle and place it on their doorsteps or in their windows.

At the scene

By Caroline Davies

The vigil took place on a grey and windy day in Reading’s centre just yards from where the attack happened in Forbury Gardens last Saturday.

Representatives from the police, ambulance, local MPs and family sat on spaced out chairs, facing three lanterns: the three lives lost.

After the families each lit the candles for their loved ones, they came together as a group, hugging and holding on to each other.

The crowd was silent, remembering the three men, David Wails, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong – described as honest, loving and outstanding people, whose lives were cut short.

Ahead of the vigil, Mr Furlong’s family released a statement thanking the police for their “remarkable bravery” in response to the attack.

They also thanked other members of the emergency services, and members of the public “who did all they could to help and save the lives of those who had been injured that night”.

The statement added: “To James’ colleagues and pupils at the Holt School: he spoke often of how much he loved where he worked and his passion for developing the students. He cared so much and was very proud of each and every one of you.

“James was passionate about creating a more loving and caring society. His time with us was cut far too short but the impact he made will live on, long long into the future. His family, his friends and those who have met him – he made us all a better person.

“We are so proud of him. James was, and always will be, so very much loved by us all.”

The family of Mr Ritchie-Bennett also released a statement, which read: “We LOVED Joe so much and we are in such deep sorrow. We need all the prayers for Joe and the Ritchie and Bennett families.”

Councillor David Stevens told the vigil that the attack had left Reading “feeling a mix of horror, disbelief and immense sadness.”

“Just one week ago, friends and families were sat in Forbury Gardens, just a few yards from here, making the most of the warm weather on a summer’s evening and enjoying one another’s company,” he said.

“It was around now, the happiness and tranquillity of the evening was shattered in the cruellest and most horrific way.”

The Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley, said of the three friends: “Who knows what they would have achieved in life had they lived to an old age. Doubtless they would have achieved many good things that the community is now deprived of benefiting from.”

He also praised members of the public who “tore off their shirts to make bandages” to help the victims of the attack.

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An online book of condolence has also been opened for people to pay tribute to the three friends, who were members of the LGBT community.

Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, said he also had been friends with all three men, and they were “great supporters” of the community. He previously described them as “true gentlemen” and said each had a “unique personality”.

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