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Reading terrorist who killed three in 'brutal' stabbing given whole-life sentence
11 January 2021, 16:17 | Updated: 11 January 2021, 19:36
The Reading terrorist who stabbed three men to death in a park in a "swift, ruthless and brutal" attack has been handed a whole-life sentence.
Khairi Saadallah, 26, shouted "Allahu akhbar" as he fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on June 20 last year.
Three other people - Stephen Young, 51, Patrick Edwards, 29, and Nishit Nisudan, 34 - were injured.
The attack was launched in Forbury Gardens as the victims were enjoying a summer evening after the first lockdown restrictions in England were relaxed.
Saadallah, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.
On Monday, Mr Justice Sweeney sentenced him at the Old Bailey to a whole-life order, saying it was a "rare and exceptional" case.
The victims were each killed with a single thrust of the knife with the attack lasting less than a minute.
As Saadallah was detained, a Muslim member of the public told him: "You have nothing to do with Islam, bastard," adding: "I am just livid."
Mr Justice Sweeney said: "The two groups were each doing nothing more than sitting in gardens, a focal point of Reading since the 18th century."
He added: "His attack on them was so swift, ruthless and brutal that none of them had any chance to react, let alone to defend themselves.
"Using his combat experience in each of their cases the defendant targeted a vulnerable area where a single thrust of the knife would, as he intended, inevitably cause death."
The judge said Saadallah had done substantial planning and "was seeking to advance a political, religious or ideological cause".
He rejected the argument that he was suffering a mental illness at the time of the killings.
Saadallah, a failed Libyan asylum seeker, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.
Mr Justice Sweeney said he had "no doubt that this is a rare and exceptional case in which just punishment requires you must be kept in prison for the rest of your life."
His victims' families appeared emotional as the judge sentenced Saadallah to a whole-life term.
He was also sentenced to concurrent 24-year jail terms for each count of attempted murder.
Previously, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC had said: "The defendant was aiming to inflict the maximum amount of damage in the shortest possible time to allow him to kill as many people as possible."
Since arriving in Britain in 2012, Saadallah had been convicted of various offences including theft and assault.
During his time at HMP Bullingdon, he sought out the company of prominent radical preacher Omar Brooks, who is associated with the banned terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun.
Saadallah was released from HMP Bullingdon on June 5 last year.
He set about researching the location for his attack, carrying out reconnaissance, and bought a knife at a Morrisons supermarket.
Saadallah had contact with his probation officer and was visited by police on June 19 over concern for his mental state.
However, a psychiatrist had since concluded that the events of June 20 were "unrelated to the effects of either mental disorder or substance misuse".