Reading terror attack knifeman pleads guilty to murdering three gay men in frenzied attack

Nick Duffy
·2-min read

A man charged with killing three gay men in the Reading terror attack has pleaded guilty to murder and could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Khairi Saadallah, 26, has admitted three charges of murder and three charges of attempted murder after a knife rampage in Reading’s Forbury Gardens in June.

The victims in the attack were all beloved members of the local LGBT+ community who had been congregating in the park: James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett.

Their friend Stephen Young was also injured, as well as another pair who had been nearby, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan.

Saadallah, who was born in Libya and was granted asylum in the UK in 2018, had previous convictions for violent and criminal offences, and was known to security service MI5 over suspected links to terror groups.

Khairi Saadallah, who stabbed to death three gay men in a Reading park has pleaded guilty to murder.
Khairi Saadallah, who stabbed to death three gay men in a Reading park has pleaded guilty to murder.

Prosecutors told the Old Bailey that the day before the Reading attack, Khairi Saadallah bought a large kitchen knife from a supermarket.

The court heard that during the stabbing, the defendant was heard to shout words to the effect of “Allahu akbar”. He was arrested minutes after the knife rampage, after an off-duty police officer called 999.

Saadallah has denied the rampage was a terror attack, while the prosecution said the murders were committed “for the purposes of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”, which is the legal definition of terrorism under UK law. Police declared it a terrorist incident in June.

On Wednesday (November 11), prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told the court the his actions merited a “whole life” sentence.

Sentencing was adjourned until December 7, with the court first required to consider whether there was a substantial degree of pre-meditation and planning, whether the attack was for a religious, political or ideological cause, and to what degree his mental state influenced the actions.

Reading terror attack victims remembered by LGBT+ community.

The city’s LGBT+ community was devastated by the news that three of its own had been murdered in the Reading terror attack.

The CEO of Reading Pride, Martin Cooper, paid tribute to all three victims. “James, Joe, and David were true gentlemen. Each with their own unique personality,” he said.

James Furlong was a school teacher, described by friends as a “proud gay man who “wanted equality for all”.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, David Wails and James Furlong were killed in the knife rampage
Joe Ritchie-Bennett, David Wails and James Furlong were killed in the knife rampage

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was a “brilliant and loving” American who had lost his husband to cancer just over five years ago.

David Wails was a scientist who always “made people smile”.

A vigil for the three victims of the Reading stabbings was held at the Blagrave Arms, a popular gay pub which the trio would often visit.