Khairi Saadallah pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders (Image: Julia Quenzler / SWNS.COM)

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A "ruthlessly efficient" terrorist stabbed three people to death and injured three more in a Reading park in less than a minute, a court has heard.

Khairi Saadallah, 26, shouted "Allahu Akhbar" during the violent spree on June 20 last year.

The defendant, of Basingstoke Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to three murders and three attempted murders and appeared at the Old Bailey on Tuesday for the start of his sentencing.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said Saadallah, originally from Tripoli in Libya, aimed to kill as many people as possible in the name of violent jihad.

He launched the attacks in Forbury Gardens, Reading, as numerous people, including the victims, were enjoying the summer evening as the first lockdown restrictions in England were relaxed.

History teacher James Furlong, 36, scientist David Wails, 49, and US citizen Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, were fatally stabbed.

Saadallah wanted to kill as many people as possible
(Image: PA)

Their friend Stephen Young, and Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan, who were sitting in a nearby group, were injured.

Opening the facts of the case, Ms Morgan said: "In less than a minute, shouting Allahu Akbar the defendant carried out a lethal attack with a knife, killing all three men before they had a chance to respond and try to defend themselves.

"Within the same minute, the defendant went on to attack others nearby, stabbing three more people, Stephen Young, Patrick Edwards and Nishit Nisudan, causing them significant injuries.

Saadallah carried out the lethal attack in less than a minute
(Image: PA)

He killed James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett
(Image: Getty Images)

"The defendant was ruthlessly efficient in his actions. The prosecution's case is that the attack perpetrated by the defendant was carefully planned and executed with determination and precision.

"The defendant believed that in carrying out this attack he was acting in pursuit of his extreme ideology, an ideology he appears to have held for some time.

"He believed that in killing as many people as possible that day he was performing an act of religious jihad."

Saadallah arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker in 2012, having fled the civil war in his home country of Libya in north Africa.

The sentencing before Mr Justice Sweeney is expected to go on for two to three days.