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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy