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Reading terror attack suspect charged with three counts of murder following stabbing of gay men

Reiss Smith June 29, 2020
David Wails, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong (L-R) have been named as the victims of the Reading terror attack.

(From L-R) David Wails, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong (L-R) have been named as the victims of the Reading terror attack. (Facebook/Thames Valley Police)

The suspect in the Reading terror attack which took the lives of three gay men has been charged with murder.

Reading terror attack suspect Khairi Saadallah was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder on Monday (June 28).

He is accused of stabbing to death three beloved members of Reading’s LGBT+ community — James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails — as they relaxed in a local park, Forbury Gardens, on June 20.

The court heard how Saadallah also allegedly tried to murder another member of their group, Stephen Young, who needed 28 head stitches for a serious head wound.

After stabbing the four men, the 25-year-old then purportedly turned to another group of five friends, stabbing two.

Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan, suffered knife wounds in the back and in the face and hand respectively. All three victims who survived the Reading terror attack were treated in hospital, but have since been discharged.

Reading terror attack suspect ‘bought a knife the day before the stabbing’.

Prosecutor Jan Newbold told the court that during the attack, “the defendant was heard to shout words to the effect of ‘Allahu akbar'”.

It was also alleged that the day before the stabbing, Saadallah, who arrived in the UK from Libya in 2012, bought a large kitchen knife from a supermarket.

He was arrested minutes after the attack, after an off-duty police officer called 999, and questioned under the Terrorism Act.

Saadallah appeared via video link in a standard prison issue tracksuit and a blue surgical face mask, speaking only to confirm his name and address. He did not enter a plea.

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said that the case would be referred to the crown court, and told Saadallah he would appear before the Old Bailey Wednesday (July 1), likely via video link.

Reading’s LGBT+ community pays tribute to James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails.

The LGBT+ community was devastated by the news that three of its own had been murdered in the Reading attack.

The CEO of Reading Pride, Martin Cooper, paid tribute to all three victims, who he called personal friends and “supporters of the community”.

“James, Joe, and David were true gentlemen. Each with their own unique personality,” he said.

James Furlong was a school teacher, described by friends as a “proud gay man who “wanted equality for all”.

Joe Ritchie-Bennett was a “brilliant and loving” American who had lost his husband to cancer just over five years ago.

David Wails was a scientist who always “made people smile”.

A vigil for the three men was held at the Blagrave Arms, a popular gay pub which the trio would often visit.

More: David Wails, James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett, Reading attack, terrorism

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