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


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The Independent Online

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.