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Forbury Gardens terror attack inquests conclusions


Sir Adrian Fulford PC KC as the nominated Judge Coroner today delivered his conclusions in the inquests into the deaths of Mr James Furlong, Mr Joseph Ritchie-Bennett and Dr David Wails who were killed in the Forbury Gardens terror attack in Reading on 20 June 2020.

Nicholas Moss KC advised HM Senior Coroner Heidi Connor, and then appeared with Richard Boyle as Counsel to the Inquests before the Judge Coroner. TLT LLP (a team led by Emily Pilborough) were appointed Solicitors to the Inquests.

Sian Reeves represented the British Red Cross.

Khairi Saadallah had previously been given a whole life tariff following his convictions for the murder of each of the deceased, and the attempted murder of three further victims.

In a narrative conclusion, consistently with the criminal convictions, Sir Adrian found that each of deceased had been unlawfully killed. The premeditated actions of the attacker, motivated by his Islamist extremist views, were the sole direct cause of the deaths.

However, the Judge Coroner went on to find that the attack would probably have been prevented if there had been better sharing of intelligence and assessment of the full intelligence picture, taking into account the attacker’s impulsive violence and personality disorder. Had the extremist risks been more adequately addressed, it is likely that the attacker would have been urgently recalled to custody having relapsed into cannabis use and made threats the day before the attack.

An additional possible but not probable contribution to the deaths were failures in the coordination of the attacker’s mental health care. Consistent case-management and long-term therapy had a real potential to reduce the attacker’s aggressivity, impulsivity and substance abuse, along with his offending. However, the extent to which this would have impacted on his extremist beliefs was more difficult to determine.

Serious failures by the immigration service were recorded, but were found not to have been causative, on the grounds that there was never a sufficient window of opportunity to secure the attacker’s removal back to Libya that was both practicable and lawful.

The Judge Coroner noted good practice by a number of agencies and individuals including in the immediate response to the attack, and by the British Red Cross and Reading Refugee Support Group.

The Judge Coroner announced he would be making a series of Preventing Future Deaths reports to be issued within three weeks.

The inquests were heard at the Central Criminal Court from 15 January – 23 February 2024. 64 witnesses were called to give oral evidence and the evidence of a further 94 witnesses was read.

The full factual findings and Records of Inquest will shortly be posted on the Chief Coroner’s Website here https://www.judiciary.uk/courts-and-tribunals/coroners-courts/judge-led-inquests/

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Nicholas Moss KC

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Richard Boyle

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