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Family of Reading attacker's victims raises 'serious questions' over how killer was free to carry out his crimes

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Khairi Saadallah (Thames Valley Police)

Khairi Saadallah (Thames Valley Police)

Khairi Saadallah (Thames Valley Police)

The family of one of the Reading attacker's victims has raised "serious questions" over why he was free to carry out the killings despite his criminal history.

History teacher James Furlong (36), scientist Dr David Wails (49), and US citizen Joseph Ritchie-Bennett (39), were stabbed to death by 26-year-old failed Libyan asylum seeker Khairi Saadallah in June last year.

Speaking after Saadallah was handed a whole life order at the old Bailey, James' father Gary Furlong said: "On the facts of this case, there are now serious questions that need answering, most notably, how the killer was ever in a position to commit these horrific acts.

"Seeking asylum here in 2012 he has obtained a litany of criminal convictions, including assaults on the public, police, and emergency services, along with carrying a bladed weapon.

"Whilst in prison it was decided by the Secretary of State on June, 4 2020, just two weeks prior to the attack, that his deportation was in the public interest but for legal reasons it could not happen.

"Despite his criminal history and threats made before the attack, he was then released back into society immediately and was freely able to commit this horrendous act on the public."

On the sentence handed down by Mr Justice Sweeney yesterday he said: "We as a family welcome the whole life order sentence given. No other outcome would have been acceptable to us.

"We'd like to thank the prosecution and investigation team, along with the judge for ensuring justice has been given to James, Joe, and David's killer and also for the other victims who were injured that day.

"The past six months have been extremely difficult for our family and we are grateful for the support we've received in particular from our police family liaison officers.

"We'd like to thank James' friends, family as well as work colleagues and pupils from the whole school who have been a great comfort throughout.

"We would also like to thank the public and emergency services that were there that evening to try and help."

The family of Dr Wails, a former researcher at Queen's University Belfast, said in a statement: "For us as a family, it has been devastating to lose our much-loved son, brother and uncle.

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Victims Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails

Victims Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails

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Victims Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails

"We know that our lives and the lives of everyone who knew and loved David will never be the same. We love you David, may you, James and Joe now rest in peace."

The family expressed their gratitude to all those involved in this case and thanked those who helped in the aftermath.

They added: "We would also like to thank the people of Reading, including the LGBT community, for the outpouring of love and support they have shown us and the other families of those involved.

"David's work colleagues and employer have also been so very kind to us and have spoken so highly of him, showing us the respect they had for him and his work as a friend and colleague."

Mr Ritchie-Bennett was said to be a devoted and loving husband who cared strongly about family.

His brother-in-law, Stephen Bennett, said: "Sadly the events that took place in Forbury Gardens cut short Joe's right to a full and vibrant life.

"He will always be loved and never forgotten."

Belfast Telegraph


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