Reading attack murderer sentenced to 'whole life' term

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor


The 26-year-old man who fatally stabbed three friends as they sat in a park in Reading last year has been handed a whole life term for the crime.

Khairi Saadallah murdered James Furlong aged 36, Dr David Wails aged 49 and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett aged 39 at Forbury Gardens on 20 June 2020. He also injured three other men who were nearby.

Friends James Furlong, Dr David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett

During the trial Saadallah of Basingstoke Road in Reading pleaded guilty to murdering the three men and attempting to murder the three other men. The attack that was called 'swift, ruthless and brutal'.

Saadallah had shouted “Allahu akhbar” while committing the crime. Afterwards he threw away his eight-inch knife and ran off. An off duty police officer pursued him.

The police operation on the day of the attack at Forbury Gardens

At the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Sweeney sentenced Saadallah to a whole-life order, saying that it was a “rare and exceptional” case.


The two groups were each doing nothing more than sitting in gardens, a focal point of Reading since the 18th century.

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.

Mr Justice Sweeney

The judge said the defendant had done substantial planning, adding that: “During the course of the attack and afterwards and because he was seeking to advance a political, religious or ideological cause, the defendant was shouting in Arabic, ‘God is the greatest’ and ‘God accept my jihad’.”

Mr Justice Sweeney rejected the argument that Saadallah was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killings.