London, Jan 11 (PTI) The Libyan asylum seeker who went on trial after a knife rampage in a park in Reading, south-east England, last year that killed three people, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday after a court ruled that he was driven by terrorism.
Khairi Saadallah, 26, carried out the attacks on June 20 as his innocent victims were outdoors on a warm summer evening during the first coronavirus lockdown in Forbury Gardens of the city. He was heard shouting 'Allahu Akbar' before killing James Furlong, 36, a history teacher; David Wails, 49, a scientist; and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, an American pharmaceutical worker.
'Each involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning, and that each was done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause,' Justice Nigel Sweeney said at a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey court in London.
He noted that all of Saadallah’s offences 'had a terrorist connection' and has imposed a whole life sentence – which means he would remain behind bars for most if not all of his life without parole.
Saadallah had admitted the murders and also pleaded guilty to three charges of attempted murder.
The court heard how he had a longstanding interest in extremism and in 2019, had accessed material on his mobile phone about Mohammed Emwazi, a British-Kuwaiti Islamic State (ISIS) member killed in Syria.
Saadallah came to Britain fleeing strife-torn Libya and his defence team said he only had a 'fleeting or occasional interest' in Islamist extremism, and that was only part of what drove him.
He had severe mental health problems and prior to the stabbing spree last year, was twice assessed by UK security services but was not deemed to be a high risk. PTI AK ZH ZH