Families emotionally testify in inquest for Reading terror attack victims | UK | Travel

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Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, was killed alongside James Furlong, 36, and David Wails, 49, as Libyan refugee Khairi Saadallah, 26, unleashed a murderous rampage in Forbury Gardens, Reading, in June 2020.

Saadallah had spent years in and out of prison for violent offences after arriving in this country as a teenager.

He was known to MI5 due to his involvement with a banned Libyan militia and had made threats to kill months prior to his rampage.

An inquest into the three deaths began at the Old Bailey yesterday.

CCTV footage of the killings was played to the court as well as a sample of recordings of the 38 distressing 999 calls made after the attacks, including one where a member of the public pleaded: “Just get loads of police here now.”

Emotional pen portraits of the three murder victims, who were all friends and members of the LGBT+ community, were then delivered.Robert Ritchie, appearing via video link from the US, said his parents “still have a calendar on the refrigerator that is locked in time” since his brother Joe’s murder. He added: “Time has stood still for the Ritchie family.”

Secondary school history teacher Mr Furlong’s dad Gary said he “received my last Father’s Day card from James on the day of his death which, with a broken heart, I opened the following day”.

In a statement read on behalf of Josephine Wails, she said her son David was busy collaborating with scientists across the EU on various projects.

She added: “Now all of his learning is wasted, and we are left heartbroken for the rest of our lives.”

Three other people, Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan; were also injured in the attack before Saadallah threw away the 8in knife and ran off, pursued by an off-duty police officer.

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

Det Ch Supt Oliver Wright of Thames Valley Police, told Coroner Sir Adrian Fulford, Saadallah had been “pretty indiscriminate” in who he targeted in the attacks and did not believe homophobia was a motive.

The inquest continues.

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