Reading terror attacker loses appeal to his sentence at Court of Appeal

Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah has lost an appeal against his whole life sentence for the murders of three men at the Court of Appeal.

Saadallah, 27, was sentenced to die in prison after he fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on June 20 last year.

Three other people were injured in the approximately minute-long rampage in Forbury Gardens, Reading, before Saadallah threw away the eight-inch knife he used and attempted to flee.

Today, Saadallah attempted to challenge the length of that term, specifically disputing two key points.

Firstly, that the murders were substantially pre-meditated and secondly, that the crimes were committed in order to advance a political, religious or ideological cause.

Those points were dismissed by the court and Sadallah's call to reduce his sentence to a minimum of 30 years, instead of a whole-life term, was rejected, much to the relief of the victims' families.

  • Gary Furlong, James Furlong's father

Judges at the Court of Appeal said there was "no substance in any criticisms" of the sentence. 

Lord Chief Justice said: "None should forget the consequences of these murders and attempted murders or the impact on the town of Reading. 

"We do not forget those who died or those who were injured. We are satisfied that judge's sentence can not be faulted."

Saadallah, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

Mr Justice Sweeney sentenced him at the Old Bailey to a whole-life order in January, saying it was a “rare and exceptional” case.

During Thursday’s hearing, which is expected to last two hours, Saadallah is expected to challenge the length of his sentence in front of three senior judges at the Royal Courts of Justice.

David Walls, Joe Richie-Bennett and James Furlong

In January the sentencing judge said: “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 added: “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’.”

He rejected the argument that Saadallah was suffering a mental illness at the time of the killings.

As well as a whole life order, Saadallah was also sentenced to concurrent 24-year jail terms for the attempted murders of Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards, and Nishit Nisudan.

The Old Bailey previously heard that 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.