Pre-inquest review into the deaths of Reading murder victims, James Furlong, Dr David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett
A further pre-inquest review (PIR) hearing will be held Today, 18 September 2023, into the deaths of three men who were murdered by Khairi Saadallah in Forbury Gardens, Reading, in June 2020.
James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, were stabbed by Saadallah and he was convicted of their murders in January 2021 and lost an appeal against a whole-life sentence in October 2021.
James Furlong was head of history and government and politics at the Holt School in Wokingham and had a long-term partner. Dr David Wails was a scientist who lived in Reading. Joseph Ritchie-Bennett was a US citizen who had lived in the UK for 15 years and worked for a pharmaceutical company in Reading. Joseph sadly lost his husband in 2014 to cancer. All three men were close to their families and devoted sons, brothers and uncles.
The full inquest into the men’s deaths has been listed for six weeks in January 2024. The PIR hearing before Judge Coroner Sir Adrian Fulford is scheduled for 10am in Court number 76 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The hearing is expected to consider disclosure and witness evidence, and will likely hear submissions on which witnesses will be called to give oral evidence at the final hearing. The father of James Furlong, Gary Furlong will attend the hearing. Family members of James Furlong, Dr David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett will attend the hearing remotely.
Family members will not be giving interviews in advance of the full inquest. This is currently the last PIR listed before the final hearing.
Gary Furlong said: “More than three years have passed since the deaths of our sons and the pain of their loss has not lessened for any of us. However we, the families of James, David and Joseph, are grateful for the necessary thorough attention that has been given to the inquest process. As the date of the full inquest draws closer, and we will have to again live through the account of what happened on that day in June 2020, we trust that the issues and events that resulted in Saadallah’s terrible crime will be examined closely and thoroughly, so that they will not be repeated. We trust that those who represent the organisations called to give an account of their involvement with Saadallah will be open and honest about what went wrong.”
The families are all represented by Leigh Day solicitors Benjamin Burrows, Fiona Huddleston and Lily Hedgman. Benjamin Burrows said: “As this is the last PIR listed, it is important to ensure that all relevant disclosure and witness evidence that should be obtained is obtained, so that the families’ concerns are fully scrutinised at the final hearing into the inquest. The families are reassured and grateful to the Judge Coroner and his legal team for the thoroughness in which this has been done to date.”