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Reading attack: Scientist Dr David Wails a former QUB researcher

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Dr David Wails

Dr David Wails

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James Furlong

James Furlong

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Joe Ritchie-Bennett

Joe Ritchie-Bennett

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Floral tributes left near the scene of the attack at Forbury Gardens

Floral tributes left near the scene of the attack at Forbury Gardens

PA

Dr David Wails

A scientist killed in a suspected terror attack in Reading had links to Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

Dr David Wails was one of three men fatally stabbed in a park on Saturday.

The 49-year-old was a former researcher at Queen's University.

He was killed along with US national Joe Ritchie-Bennett (39) and history teacher James Furlong (36) in the knife attack in Forbury Gardens. Three other people needed hospital treatment.

Their suspected attacker, Khairi Saadallah (25), remained in custody last night after being tackled to the ground by an unarmed police officer near the scene and arrested on suspicion of murder. He was later re-arrested under terrorism laws.

Mr Wails worked at global chemicals firm Johnson Matthey, focusing for much of his career on clean energy, his employer said.

He joined the company in 2000, following several post-doctoral positions after finishing his PhD at the University of York.

Among these was a stint at Queen's University.

Offering her sympathies to Mr Wails' loved ones, Belfast Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

"To David's family, the QUB community and the families of the other victims, she extends her most sincere condolences," her office posted on Twitter.

Queen's Alumni also posted a message of condolence online, saying: "Deepest sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of David Wails, former post-doctoral researcher who died in the attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading, on Saturday."

In a statement released by police yesterday, Mr Wails' parents said they had been left devastated by the loss of their son.

"David was a kind and much-loved son, brother and uncle who never hurt anyone in his life," they said.

"We are broken-hearted at losing him and in such a terrible way.

"We will treasure our wonderful memories of him and he will always be with us in our hearts."

Mr Wails's friend Michael Main, speaking to BBC Breakfast, recalled his "dry sense of humour" and how "he would do anything for anyone that he could".

Meanwhile, the late scientist's employer paid tribute to "a gentle, thoughtful man" who would be "much missed" by colleagues.

"We are devastated by the death of our colleague Dr Dave Wails," a statement said.

"Dave was a highly valued and experienced member of the Johnson Matthey family. He was an expert in catalysis and much of his career focused on using science for cleaner energy applications.

"Dave was proud to use his expertise to make a positive impact on the world. He was a well-liked colleague who will be much missed.

"Dave was a gentle, thoughtful man with a dry sense of humour.

"He is recognised by his friends at JM for being an excellent coach, supporting colleagues both professionally and personally."

Belfast Telegraph