Reading attack: Who were the three victims?

Tribute to Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong, and David Wails outside Blagrave Arms pub reads, ‘We will never forget you’

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 24 June 2020 07:46
Priti Patel on 'tragic' Reading terror attack which left three dead

All three victims of the Reading terror attack have now been named. Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong, and David Wails were killed in a knife attack on Saturday night.

Their suspected killer, Khairi Saadallah, 25, is in custody after an unarmed police officer tackled him to the ground near the scene at Forbury Gardens, and he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The trio were all regulars at The Blagrave Arms pub in the centre of Reading. According to Martin Cooper, of the LGBT+ charity Reading Pride, the men were “a support network for individuals” in that community, while the pub’s landlords described them as dear friends.

L-R: Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails

Joe Ritchie-Bennett

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr Ritchie-Bennett moved to Britain some 15 years ago.

His father, Robert Ritchie, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that his son had worked for a law firm in London before moving to the offices of a Dutch pharmaceutical company in Reading about 10 years ago.

Mr Ritchie-Bennett entered a civil partnership with Ian Bennett in 2006, and the couple joined their surnames, the Inquirer reported. Mr Bennett died in 2014 of cancer, aged 32.

His father added, in a statement released through Thames Valley Police: ”I was absolutely blessed and proud to be Joe’s father for 39 years and we are heartbroken by what has happened.”

The Inquirer reported that Mr Ritchie-Bennett had been planning a trip to Greece in the summer, and discussed it the night before he died with a friend back in the States.

James Furlong

Mr Furlong, 36, taught at The Holt School in Wokingham, southeast of Reading, where he was head of history, government and politics.

Pupils said he was well-regarded and one group wrote in an open letter: “His deep knowledge and love for his subject, his nurturing spirit and his unfaltering kindness towards his students are treasured by all who knew him.”

“He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so, become active citizens and have a voice,” added Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, joint headteachers of The Holt School.

He previously taught in Liverpool, his home town, before moving to Berkshire.

Michael Sutton, headteacher of King David High School in Liverpool’s Wavertree area, told The Liverpool Echo: “He worked at the school over a period of four years before leaving, for a post in Reading, in 2012.

“James is well remembered by many staff as a lovely, gentle man who cared for his pupils and colleagues. They all appreciated his dedication and commitment to their wellbeing, which extended beyond the classroom, as he took an active part in school trips and events.”

Silence held outside school where victim of Reading attack worked

David Wails

Dr Wails worked for the science and chemicals company Johnson Matthey (JM), which is focused on sustainable technology. The firm said he was an expert in catalysis and had worked on clean energy projects.

In a statement bosses said: “Dave was a highly valued and experienced member of the Johnson Matthey family. We can confirm that he had worked at JM since 2000 following the completion of his PhD at the University of York and several post-doctoral positions.

“Dave was proud to use his expertise to make a positive impact on the world. He was a well-liked colleague who will be much missed.

“Dave was a gentle, thoughtful man with a dry sense of humour. He is recognised by his friends at JM for being an excellent coach, supporting colleagues both professionally and personally.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with Dave’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be deeply missed by everyone here.”

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