The Reading terror attacker who executed three men in a park in a "swift, ruthless and brutal" knife attack has been handed a whole-life sentence.

Khairi Saadallah, 26, shouted "Allahu akhbar" as he fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on June 20 last year.

Three other people – Stephen Young, 51, Patrick Edwards, 29, and Nishit Nisudan, 34 – were also injured before Saadallah threw away the eight-inch knife and ran off, pursued by an off-duty police officer.

As he was detained, a Muslim member of the public told him: "You have nothing to do with Islam, b—–d," adding: "I am just livid."

The failed Libyan asylum seeker had launched the attacks in Forbury Gardens, Reading, as the victims were enjoying a summer evening after the first lockdown restrictions in England were relaxed.

Saadallah, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

On Monday, Mr Justice Sweeney sentenced him at the Old Bailey to a whole-life order, saying it was a "rare and exceptional" case.

The judge said: "The two groups were each doing nothing more than sitting in gardens, a focal point of Reading since the 18th century."

The victims were each killed with a single thrust of the knife with the attack lasting less than a minute.

Mr Justice Sweeney said: "His attack on them was so swift, ruthless and brutal that none of them had any chance to react, let alone to defend themselves.

"Using his combat experience in each of their cases the defendant targeted a vulnerable area where a single thrust of the knife would, as he intended, inevitably cause death."

The judge said the defendant had done substantial planning.

He added: "During the course of the attack and afterwards and because he was seeking to advance a political, religious or ideological cause, the defendant was shouting in Arabic, ‘God is the greatest’ and ‘God accept my jihad’."

He rejected the argument that Saadallah was suffering a mental illness at the time of the killings.

Reading terror attack, in pictures

Saadallah buying a knife at a Morrisons supermarket the day before his attack

Saadallah leaving his flat on the day that he stabbed three men

Khairi Saadallah handing a bible to a passer by before he stabbed three people to death 

Saadallah being visited by police officers at his flat the day before the attack

CCTV image of Saadallah's attack

Police chase the terrorist through the streets of Reading

Saadallah is arrested

Forensic tents in Forbury Gardens in Reading

The victims – Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails

Members of the public pay their respects to the victims

Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley