Reading knife attacker had “fleeting interest” in extremism, court told

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Lawyer says Khairi Saadallah, who admitted killing three people in a park, is not a ‘radical Islamist’

The man who admitted murdering three people in a Reading park is not a jihadist but is afflicted with drug abuse and mental health issues, a court heard today. prosecutors have demanded that Khairi Saadallah, 26, be given a life sentence – ensuring he will die in jail – for the attacks last June in which he shouted Allahu Akbar. at an earlier trial, Saadallah pleaded guilty to killing three men and the attempted murder of three others, within a period of less than a minute. His counsel, Rossano Scamardella QC, tried to counter the prosecution’s contention that the attacks were conducted as part of an alleged jihad fuelled by Saadallah’s longstanding involvement in violent extremism.The victims were enjoying a summer evening during the first coronavirus lockdown in Forbury Gardens, Reading. They were James Furlong, 36, a history teacher, David Wails, 49, a physicist, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, an American pharmacist.Ritchie-Bennett and Furlong sustained single wounds to the neck. Wails was stabbed once in the back, with the Crown claiming that the accuracy of the wounds showed the attacker knew how to cause maximum damage with the knife he had purchased at a supermarket the day before.Saadallah also stabbed Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan, who were seated nearby and were lucky to survive. Saadallah’s lawyer said at the sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey that he had shown an interest in Christianity and lived a lifestyle that no dedicated Islamist militant would lead. Scamardella said his client faces an initial sentence of 30 years in prison and emphasized that he did not want to downplay the severity of the attacks. “I concede that the defendant took certain steps to facilitate the killing and put himself in a position to commit the act, but nothing close to planning that would justify a life sentence,” he said. “On Tuesday, prosecutors said Saadallah had accessed material on his cellphone in 2019 about Mohammed Emwazi, the Isis propagandist seen in videos taunting his victims before killing them, and that two days before the attack he had accessed a website featuring the flag associated with Isis, which has staged numerous attacks on Western targets. He was accused in 2017 of being linked to an extremist Islamist preacher while serving a prison sentence.Scamardella said Saadallah had a “passing or sporadic interest” in Islamist extremism, but that was only part of what drove him. “He smokes cigarettes, he takes drugs, he’s a heavy alcohol user. He injured himself, he had tattoos.

The attacker had a crucifix tattoo on his forearm, prayed in a church and told police during an interrogation that he was “part Muslim and part Catholic.”

Scamardella added: “No radical Islamist would condone the adoption of another faith – it’s inconceivable. “The court heard that Saadallah had an emotionally dysfunctional and antisocial personality disorder, which was exacerbated by alcohol and cannabis abuse.

A psychological study on Saadallah said those factors played no role in the June 20 attack, which police labeled a terrorist incident. “1 The sentencing hearing also heard from survivors of the attack. Furlong’s family recounted their pain and loss in a statement read to the court. His father, Gary, his mother, Jan, his brother, Gary, his sister-in-law, Laura, and two nieces said in the joint statement, “James was a magnificent human being, an unfailingly kind and compassionate man. He was a sweet, profoundly loving soul and a great help to those he met. James led a happy and full life and we were a very close family. He first came out as gay to his mother and then later to the rest of his family. He was afraid it would change things, but it just brought us all closer together.

As a mom, raising a child is the greatest gift. Losing a child is unbearable, but losing a child in such a cruel and abusive way is unbearable. “We haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since it happened. Where James should be, there is a massive void that makes our hearts ache

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