A refugee accused of murdering three people in a suspected terror attack in Reading shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ moments before he carried out the knife attack, a court heard today.
Khairi Saadallah, 25, is accused of killing James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and 39-year-old Joe Ritchie-Bennett during the incident Forbury Gardens, Reading, Berkshire nine days ago.
He is also charged with the attempted murder of three other men who were also attacked on the same day, Patrick Edwards, Stephen Young and Nishit Nisudan.
Prosecutor Jan Newbold told the court Saadallah is alleged to have bought the murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, from a supermarket the day before the attack on June 20 – which was declared a terrorist incident by police.
Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been accused of carrying out the knife rampage in Reading that left three people dead
The incident took place in Forbury Gardens, in the centre of Reading, Berkshire, on June 20
Saadallah is charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the incident at Forbury Gardens (pictured)
A police forensic officer searches floral tributes laid at the scene of the incident in Forbury Gardens
Prosecutor Jan Newbold told the court Saadallah is alleged to have bought the murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, from a supermarket the day before the attack on June 20. Pictured: A court sketch of Saadallah appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video link
She said he began to stab his alleged victims ‘without warning or provocation’ adding: ‘At the time of the incident, the defendant was heard to shout words to the effect of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great).’
The defendant allegedly stabbed Mr Ritchie-Bennett and Mr Furlong, delivering one blow to each of their necks.
He then stabbed Mr Wails once in the back, prosecutors said.
Saadallah then allegedly stabbed Stephen Young once in the head causing a deep laceration which required 28 stitches.
The defendant also chased two other men as they ran away.
He then quickly headed towards a second group sitting nearby, made up of five friends including Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan.
Mr Edwards was allegedly stabbed in the back and Mr Nisudan in the face and hand as he tried to protect himself.
Ms Newbold prosecuting said Saadallah cut himself after fleeing the scene to make it look like had been the victim of a robbery.
After the attack he was chased by an off-duty police officer and arrested in a nearby street by another officer.
Saadallah was said to have been seen throwing away his rucksack and appeared to damage what prosecutors believe was his mobile phone, which was then found by the police.
Today he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video link from Coventry Magistrates’ Court charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Saadallah appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video link from Coventry Magistrates’ Court today charged with the murder of three men in the suspected terror attack
Wearing a grey prison issue tracksuit and a blue surgical mask, he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and that he lived in Reading.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot today remanded Saadallah in custody ahead of his next court appearance.
He will next appear at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.
Saadallah came to the UK from Libya in 2012 and originally claimed asylum before being given leave to remain in 2018.
Following the attack, dozens of floral tributes were left at the scene for the victims.
Dozens of floral tributes have been left near to the scene of the attack on June 20
People are seen adding to the mass of floral tributes following the attack in Forbury Gardens
Home Secretary Priti Patel visited Reading on Saturday when a vigil was held for the three victims
Home Secretary Priti Patel also visited the town on Saturday.
The Conservative politician lit a candle during a vigil for the victims of the Reading terror attack, at Reading’s Market Place.
She also visited the town and spoke to police two days after the attack and told reporters ‘I mean this is a tragic, tragic event, it really is’.
Last week tributes were paid to the victims, including Mr Ritchie-Bennett who was from Philadelphia, but had been living in Britain for 15 years.
He had been working for a Dutch pharmaceutical firm in Reading for about a decade, after working for a London law firm when he first moved to England.
His spouse Ian Bennett, whom he married in England in November 2006, died in December 2014 aged 32 after a short battle with colon cancer.
Mr Ritchie-Bennett had been ill with coronavirus and Mr Furlong, who also died in the attack, had been delivering his meals to him in isolation.
Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s brother said he had never got over the death of his spouse, but had made a home in Reading.
Robert Ritchie added: ‘We last spoke a week on Sunday. He sounded great, the happiest I’ve ever heard him. He loved the people in the UK, he really found a home there. Everybody loved Joe, he was the life of the party from the time we were kids. No act of terrorism will ever take away his memory and his spirit.’
Mr Ritchie-Bennett’s father Robert, 71, a retired police chief inspector, is now a college professor who lectures on counter terrorism. ‘I’m devastated,’ he said. ‘He was a very caring and loving guy.
‘He just loved life and it was a blessing to be his father. We’ve decided to bring him home, he’s not going to be buried in the UK.’