Alps murders: cyclist breaks silence to tell of race to save girl

 

The first man to stumble across the aftermath of the killings in the French Alps last week has broken his silence to describe the scene. He told of his fight to save the life of a seven-year-old British girl who collapsed bloodied in front of him, after the killers shot her parents, grandmother and a passing French cyclist.

Brett Martin said he saw "a lot of blood and heads with bullet holes in them" in the Al-Hilli family's BMW, which had been rammed backwards into an earth bank.

And he revealed for the first time that, when he arrived, the wheels of the car were still spinning as the engine revved, raising the possibility the family were trying to escape when they were shot.

The former RAF pilot said he first thought he was looking at the scene of a car accident, but as the truth dawned he feared being killed himself by "some nutter" with a gun.

He said the three adults – Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal and her mother – were clearly dead inside the car. He spoke of the "difficult decision" he took to leave Zainab, the couple's eldest daughter, bleeding on the ground to go and get help after he tried to phone the emergency services but could not get a signal.

Mr Martin said he initially thought Zainab, who was stumbling around as he approached the car, was just larking about. But it became clear she was badly injured after she collapsed in front of the vehicle.

He moved her body from where it lay, fearing the vehicle could lurch forward suddenly, and she lost consciousness moments later.

"It was pretty much what you would imagine a set from CSI Miami would be like," he told the BBC.

He said: "I've never seen people who have been shot before … It seemed to me just like a Hollywood scene and if someone had said 'cut' and everyone had walked away, that would have been it. But unfortunately it was real life."

He added: "It was the sort of thing you would never in your life expect to come across. As I approached the scene, the first thing I saw was a bike on its side. I had seen the cyclist ahead of me much earlier so I thought he was just having a rest."

He added: "As I got even closer, I then saw the car with its engine revving and its wheels spinning. It seemed at that moment like there had been a terrible car accident."

He said that – like the first French policemen on the scene – he did not see the couple's youngest daughter, four-year-old Zeena, who was hiding underneath her mother.

He also tried to help the 45-year-old French cyclist Sylvain Mollier but found him dead.

French media reported Mr Martin may be recalled to France to take part in a reconstruction of the events.

Eric Maillaud, chief prosecutor of Annecy, where the murders took place, met his British counterparts in Surrey yesterday.

Accompanied by the examining magistrate Michel Mollin, Mr Maillaud said it was "without any doubt that the reasons and causes [for the killings] have their origins in this country".

Police previously said they are following three lines of inquiry, focusing on Mr Al-Hilli's work, his family and links to his native Iraq.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore