Published Tuesday, 05 March 2013
The soldiers went to collect pizzas when they were confronted by the gunmen. (© Pacemaker)
The evidence was given to the Diplock, non-jury Crown Court trial of 47-year-old Co Londonderry man Brian Patrick Shivers, accused of involvement in the gun attack on their Co Antrim base four years ago this month.
Shivers from Sperrin Mews, Magherafelt, denies the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, and 21-year-old Patrick Azimkar from London, who died in the 7 March attack on Massereene Army Base.
He also denies the attempted murders of two other soldiers, two civilian guards at the base, and two pizza delivery men and possession of the two AK assault rifles used in the shooting.
The soldiers' evidence on Tuesday revealed that but for a delay that day in their deployment to Afghanistan the troops from 38 Engineers would not have ended up as targets at their then homebase on the outskirts of Antrim.
Former Sapper Robert Marshall, the only person to escape unscathed from the ambush told the court they had decided to treat themselves to pizzas on their last night there.
"A sort of last supper, so to speak before we were going away. We thought with the time we had, to treat ourselves and to just get a pizza together," said Mr Marshall.
He said as they collected their pizzas, he initially thought a 'firework' had gone off, before hearing the distinctive "snap...crackle" sound of gunfire and then the realisation he was in the middle of an ambush.
"I just waited for the rate of fire to slow down or stop so I could get back to the Sanger," he added.
Later after the gunmen had made their escape, Mr Marshall said that he returned outside where he found his comrade Mark Quinsey.
"I went up to Mark...he was unresponsive. There was a lot of blood and his eyes...his eyes were at the back of his head," he added.
In a statement, this time read to the court, from another soldier, who was shot in the hand and shoulder, told how he believed he was saved by being pushed to the ground by Sapper Azimkar, the second soldier to die in the shooting.
Moments later Sapper Mark Fitzpatrick statement described how the single gunman, he saw, had stood over his friend and "put two or three rounds" into him as he lay on the ground.
Sapper Fitzpatrick, who reported he'd never "felt so defenceless" in all his life, said that to him he "could see he (the gunman) was enjoying what he was doing".