Families of Reading terror attack victims call for lessons to be learned as inquest begins

  • Watch as James Furlong's father Gary Furlong reads a statement on behalf of the families.

The father of a man killed in a terror attack in Reading says the families of those who died still have the principle wish that lessons may be learned to prevent others suffering the tragedy that they have endured.

James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, died after being stabbed in Forbury Gardens in the town centre on 20 June 2020.

Speaking outside the inquest into their deaths at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, James Furlong's father Gary told ITV News that any failings that contributed to their deaths must be identified.

The inquest heard that the Libyan refugee responsible for the attack could not be deported as he was facing a trial accused of beating an emergency worker and damaging property prior to the incident, an inquest has heard.

Khairi Saadallah shouted "Allahu akhbar" as he fatally stabbed the friends. He was convicted of their murders and told he would never be released from prison.

On Monday a pre-inquest review heard Saadallah was also accused of eating a mattress at a police station and spitting on an officer on 24 July 2019.

The charges were later dropped on June 1 2020 - just days before the attack.

Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah was handed a whole-life order in January 2021 Credit: Thames Valley Police/PA

Nicholas Moss KC, counsel to the inquest, said in court papers: "Saadallah is said to have attended Reading police station, spat at a detention officer after arrest, and damaged a mattress by eating it.

"He was charged, pleaded not guilty, released on unconditional bail and his trial was adjourned due to Covid.

"It appears that Saadallah was next due in court for these offences in July 2020 - after the date of the attack."

Home Office staff emailed Thames Valley Police on May 28 2020, stating that they planned to deport Saadallah but were unable to "until the impending charges had been dealt with".

Forensic teams carried out investigations at Forbury Gardens following the attacks. Credit: ITV Meridian

However, other Home Office staff were arguing against deporting Saadallah as it was dangerous for him to return to Libya at the time, the court heard. The charges - being drunk and disorderly, destroying or damaging property, and assault by beating of an emergency worker - were dropped on June 1 2020, shortly before the attack.

Mr Moss said solicitors to the inquest have requested a witness statement from the Crown Prosecution Service "addressing why the decision was made not to pursue" the charges.

Three other people - Stephen Young, 51, Patrick Edwards, 29, and Nishit Nisudan, 34 - were injured before Saadallah threw away the eight-inch knife and ran off, pursued by an off-duty police officer.

In January 2021, the killer was handed a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

Coroner Sir Adrian Fulford PC KC told the court "no relevant stone will be left unturned" during the inquest.

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