Saturday, October 16, 2021

Reading terror attacker denied appeal to whole-life prison sentence

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LONDON: A convicted terrorist who killed three men in an attack in the English town of Reading in June 2020 has been denied an appeal against his whole-life sentence.

Khariri Saadallah, 27, admitted to stabbing and murdering three men in a park in the town in January, as well as the attempted murder of three others, and was given a whole-life jail term.

The victims were James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and 39-year-old Joe Ritchie-Bennett.

Saadallah appeared at the Court of Appeal on Thursday via a video-link from Belmarsh prison in London, where he is interned, to launch his challenge to the verdict.

Rossano Scamardella, the lawyer representing Saadallah, said that the levels of premeditation and religious ideology behind the attack “did not reach the threshold” for a whole-life sentence, adding: “We say the judge erred in that respect.”

However, the appeals court ruled there was “no substance” to Saadallah’s criticisms of the judge who sentenced him and Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett said: “We have concluded there is no substance in any of the criticisms made of the judge’s conclusions. In those circumstances we refuse leave to appeal . . .”

London’s Old Bailey, the court where Saadallah was sentenced, had previously heard that he “executed” the men as an “act of religious jihad.”

Lord Burnett said that there had been “clearly substantial” planning and premeditation in Saadallah’s actions. He rejected a defense of mental illness and added: “We are satisfied that the judge’s approach cannot be faulted and there is no basis for suggesting that the whole-life order was wrong in principle or manifestly excessive.”

The attack was “carried out for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause,” he concluded.

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