Police officers who chased and arrested terrorist in Reading attack recognised for bravery

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor

Four Thames Valley Police officers who chased, tackled and arrested a terrorist who murdered three people in a knife attack in Reading have won a Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Award.

PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King displayed 'quick thinking and incredible courage' when they apprehended Khairi Saadallah.

Saadallah stabbed six people in Forbury Gardens in June 2020.

David Wails, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong died in the attack.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails. Credit: Thames Valley Police

PC Packman was off duty and was in Forbury Gardens with friends when he witnessed the stabbings.

Without a thought, he ran after the attacker.

He said: “I was sitting on the grass, facing towards where the victims were and I don’t know what got my attention first, I think it was a scream.

"I looked up and there was the suspect and he was going around the group who were sitting on the floor, stabbing them. I shouted ‘Knife!’”

He called the police while pursing Saadallah.

His instructions allowed nearby, unarmed uniformed response officers PC Steele, PC King, and Sgt Watkinson, to make their way by car to the top of Friar Street.

The officers saw Saadalah running towards them and got out of their cars, chased him, rugby tackled him to the floor, restrained and arrested him.

Khairi Saadallah Credit: ITV News

Khairi Saadallah pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in November 2020. The judge sentenced Saadalah to a whole life tariff without eligibility for parole for each count of murder, and 24 years’ imprisonment for each count of attempted murder.

The quartet say they feel 'honoured' to have received a Bravery Award for their work.

They have also paid tribute to their Thames Valley colleagues who worked that night, including those who administered first aid to the victims, and the detectives who brought the attacker to justice.

Watch: Sgt Iain Watkinson says he was just 'doing what every other police officer does every day'

Craig O’Leary, Chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said: "The actions of James – who let’s not forget was off duty – Iain and the two Liams were exemplary and in the highest standards and traditions of the British police service.

"They acted selflessly and with immense bravery in order to protect the public from the possibility of further attacks. We could not be prouder of them.”

"Our thoughts remain with all those who were injured in this terrorist attack and the families of those killed in this devastating incident.”