THE Reading terror attacker who “executed” three men in just a minute as he unleashed a “ruthless” stabbing spree in a park has today been sentenced to a whole life order.
Libyan refugee Khairi Saadallah, 26, shouted “Allahu akhbar” as he fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39.(Left to right) Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails were brutally killed in Reading on June 20 last year[/caption]
Three other people – Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan – were also injured before Saadallah threw away the knife and ran off, pursued by an off-duty police officer on June 20 last year.
The failed Libyan asylum seeker had launched the attacks in Forbury Gardens, Reading, as the victims were enjoying a summer evening after the first lockdown restrictions in England were relaxed.
Horrific footage showed the “brutal” killings unfolded in less than a minute.
Saadallah, of Reading, pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders and was sentenced at the Old Bailey by Mr Justice Sweeney on Monday.
The whole life order means the defendant will serve that sentence without any possibility of parole or conditional release.
He was also sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment for each of the three attempted murder charges to run concurrently.
Saadallah, wearing a grey jacket over a sweater and a red and white hat, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.
Mr Justice Sweeney said he had “no doubt that this is a rare and exceptional case in which just punishment requires you must be kept in prison for the rest of your life”.
He added: “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.”Footage released by anti-terrorism cops shows Saadallah racing across Forbury Gardens during the minute-long rampage in Reading[/caption] Police pursue him on foot after he runs off after the sick attack[/caption] Chilling footage shows Khairi Saadallah handing a bible to a neighbour before he stabbed three people to death in Reading[/caption] Saadallah showed no emotion as he was jailed today[/caption] Khairi Saadallah is seen in Forbury Gardens, Reading, days before the violent rampage [/caption]
He was also sentenced to recurrent 24-year jail terms for each count of attempted murder.
His victims’ families appeared emotional as the judge sentenced Saadallah to a whole-life term.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC had previously told the court Saadallah wanted to kill as many people as possible in the name of violent jihad.
She said: “The defendant was aiming to inflict the maximum amount of damage in the shortest possible time to allow him to kill as many people as possible.
“In effect, the killings of Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, David Wails and James Furlong were highly effective executions.”
Ms Morgan said the defendant was “ruthlessly efficient” in his actions, having planned and executed the attack with “determination and precision”.
CCTV footage released by counter-terrorism cops shows Saadallah leaving his flat and stopping next to some bins before carrying out the attack.
He is then seen chasing across the park after people as they flee before running in the opposite direction.
As he was detained, a Muslim member of the public told him: “You have nothing to do with Islam, bastard,” adding: “I am just livid.”
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 Morrisons supermarket.
He had contact with his probation officer and was visited by police on June 19 – a day before the attack – over concern for his mental state.
Body cam footage taken by cops show killer Saadallah successfully convincing officers he was getting himself together and was looking forward to taking a job as a gardener.
In a two minute exchange, officers can be seen questioning how he is feeling and appear happy with his answers before leaving.
Unknown to the officers visiting, Saadallah was already planning out his deadly attack and had purchased the knife he used to violently kill three.
A psychiatrist had since concluded that the events of June 20 were “unrelated to the effects of either mental disorder or substance misuse”.
What is a whole life order?
Prisoners who are sentenced to a whole life order must serve their time without the possibility of parole.
They can only be issued to those who committed their crimes when they were over the age of 21.
Ian Brady, Ian Huntley and Harold Shipman are among the notorious prisoners who have faced this lifetime sentence.
While whole life orders mean that inmates will by kept incarcerated until death, this doesn’t happen in every case.
The Home Secretary may grant release in exceptional circumstances, such as if a prisoner is of a great age or in ill health.
Mr Furlong was described as “a remarkable person, an unfailingly kind and compassionate man” in a victim impact statement by his family.
Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s mother Charlene said: “Everyone loved Joe and he always included everyone in his life. He cared deeply for family, friends and co-workers.
“He always saw the good in people and accepted them as we accepted him.”
Joan Wails, the mother of Mr Wails, said: “There was no sense in David’s death, it was cruel, inhumane and cowardly. The pain I feel in my heart is unbearable.
“What this person did to David and his two friends is monstrous. That’s what my family and I refer to him as, a monster.”
In mitigation, Rossano Scamardella QC argued against a whole life order due to a lack “significant planning or premeditation”.
Most read in UK News
Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, QPM, head of CTPSE, said: “The horrors of this incident took just a single minute to unfold. It took him less than 10 seconds to kill three innocent men, and he then went on to attack and tried to kill another three men before running off towards the town centre.
“In that tiny timeframe, he changed the lives of all those involved forever.
“He has caused unspeakable hurt and distress to the families of the three men who were brutally murdered as they were relaxing and enjoying socialising with friends on a Saturday evening.”Khairi Saadallah being visited by police officers at his flat the day before he stabbed three people to death[/caption] Khairi Saadallah leaving his flat on the day that he killed three people [/caption] Khairi Saadallah buying a knife at a Morrisons supermarket the day before the attack[/caption] A bandana worn by Khairi Saadallah as he killed people in Reading[/caption] Court artist sketch of Khairi Saadallah appearing via video-link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in June last year[/caption] The ‘brutal’ killings took place in Forbury Gardens, Reading, Berks[/caption] Family members of the three victims comfort each other after lighting candles during a vigil at Market Place, Reading[/caption] A forensic officer searches floral tributes laid at Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre[/caption] Armed police officers at a block of flats in Reading after the shocking incident in Forbury Gardens [/caption]