Cyclist describes seeing gunman moments after murder
Published 03/06/2010 | 15:14
A cyclist described today how he dramatically looked the killer in the face just seconds after he had shot a woman dead.
Barrie Moss, 43, was cycling home after visiting friends when he rode into the aftermath of the shooting of Susan Hughes at Orgill, Haggard End, Egremont.
Mr Moss described how Derrick Bird had shot her in the back with his telescopic rifle and then calmly drove off - leaving him alive and unscathed.
He said he and another man had desperately tried to save the woman but it was too late and she died at the scene.
Mr Moss described the incident - which lasted a matter of seconds - as like something out of a James Bond film.
The divorced father-of-four, from St Bees, near Whitehaven, told how he stumbled across Bird purely by chance while on his way home from Egremont.
"I came round the corner and there was a Citroen Picasso parked in the middle of the road with the driver side door wide open," the technical consultant said.
"I cycled up to it, thinking it was a bit strange and as I got up to it, it said taxi on the side.
"My first thought was that some teenagers had got out and run off into the estate and the taxi driver had got out and chased after them.
"When I got past I saw a short, fat guy looking up the hill and I thought that's got to be the taxi driver.
"I turned round and very briefly got a look at his face and there was no expression.
"But my eyes were drawn to a massive telescopic sight, sniper rifle. It just looked like something out of a James Bond movie.
"My thought was that it was a prop or something. He stared at me, probably not for very long, but seems longer now.
"He scurried into the car and drove down the hill. It was only when he had driven off that I saw a body slumped on the pavement.
"I looked and I shouted out: 'Are you okay?'
"There was two bags of shopping and a handbag dropped as well.
"I said 'Are you okay love?'.
"There was no response and she did not move. I stopped the bike and I was going to get off and there was a 20-year-old woman pushing a pram up the hill. She got to about 10ft away, stopped and screamed.
"I thought 'Oh my God, there's something wrong.'"
Mr Moss then said he called the police and ran over to where Susan Hughes was lying.
"I went over to the lady and it was obvious that there was something quite majorly wrong," he said.
"She was unconscious but still breathing, but very laboured breathing. We were shaking her to try and wake her, so she'd start breathing again.
"There were sirens everywhere but no one was coming to us.
"Then someone ran out from the houses and said 'There's a madman loose shooting people'.
"It was then we thought. 'Oh my God, this is what's happened to her'."
Mr Moss said that he and another man, a friend called Stewart, tried to help.
"There was nothing we could do," he said.
"It was very obvious. We tried to put her in the recovery position and even when we moved her, there was no way.
"We stayed with her, trying to keep the breathing going but it just became less and less and she died.
"Someone came out from one of the houses with a blanket and put it over her."
Mr Moss said he stayed at the scene for about 40 minutes and all he could hear were helicopters and police sirens.
"When the police arrived they told us to get in doors because this man was still on the loose."
Mr Moss added: "He must have driven down the hill, saw this woman carrying her shopping, pulled the car over, walked round the back, used his rifle and shot her right in the back."
Mr Moss said he did not feel as if was the luckiest man alive after looking Bird in the face and living to tell the tale.
"People say that, but as I said, because of the way I processed it - it wasn't a gun, it was a prop or something, it never occurred to me," he said.
"Even now it was just a piece of time that has gone. Maybe I'm blanking it out.
"I was just a guy who was there, who stayed with a woman.
"I've been reading the papers today. I've just been getting cross.
"Everybody has been asking why. Buy why is irrelevant really. The only guy who can answer that is dead. To me it is 'How?'
"How did a taxi driver get a gun like that? We're in Britain. Why would you own a gun like that?"