A Libyan refugee, who killed three men in a terrorist knife attack in a Reading park, has pleaded guilty to murder.
Khairi Saadallah, 26, launched a two-minute stabbing spree on a group of friends in Forbury Gardens, Reading, shortly before 7pm on Saturday June 20.
Witnesses reported hearing him shout “Allahu Akbar” [god is great] as he chased two men in the Berkshire park, before turning his attention to a group of five friends sitting nearby.
He was due to face trial next month for the murder of James Furlong, 36, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, and David Wails, 49 and the attempted murder of three others: Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan.
But at a hearing on Wednesday, Saadallah, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors say Saadallah acted “without warning or provocation” and attacked his victims “in rapid succession” causing “catastrophic and fatal” injuries.
History teacher Mr Furlong and Mr Ritchie-Bennett, a US citizen, were each stabbed once in the neck while scientist Mr Wails was stabbed once in the back. All three were declared dead at the scene.
Police discovered that Saadallah had bought a large kitchen knife and a pair of gloves in Morrisons supermarket in Reading the day before the attack.
He appeared at the Old Bailey wearing a red and white beany hat and a grey jacket. His voice appeared muffled as he spoke while wearing a face mask.
Members of the victims’ families sat in court for the hearing before Mr Justice Sweeney.
Saadallah, who was born in Tripoli, Libya, had been living in the UK since 2012.
He was granted asylum in 2018 on the basis that he had been involved with groups fighting in the Libyan civil war.
He had previous convictions for offences of violence, criminal damage and possession of bladed articles, committed between June 2014 and August 2019.
He was briefly on the radar of the security service MI5 in 2019 over concerns he may have had aspirations to travel abroad, potentially for terrorist purposes.
However, security sources said he was quickly assessed but no genuine threat or immediate risk was discovered.
After the attack, he was assessed for mental health issues but was found fit to stand trial.
Khairi Saadallah will be sentenced next month, once the judge has had time to consider background reports.
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