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News man finds himself at centre of street murder drama

A weekly newspaper reporter has relived the moment he found himself at the centre of a murder drama in the street close to his home.
A Russian man in his mid-20s had been stabbed just five minutes earlier in Highgate and was surrounded by his friends.
Hornsey Journal chief reporter Stephen Moore and his girlfriend tried to help, but the man died at the scene shortly after paramedics arrived.
Here is his account of the horrific events.

At first I thought someone was getting a pasting from a gang of muggers. Then, a few steps later, a passed-out drunk surrounded by his concerned mates.

But an urgency and panic in their voices made me and my girlfriend carry on towards them.

Sitting propped up with his eyes almost shut, face ashen and head starting to loll, a man my age had several friends gathered and crouched around him.

One was trying to rouse him from his stupor, another had his hand pressed against the man’s ribcage, and all of them speaking over each other in an east European tongue.

My girlfriend stopped a few metres away to dial 999 and I asked who spoke English. I went to the man and felt his hot, laboured and fast breaths on the back of my hand and stared into his eyes, but nothing seemed to be registering.

He had been stabbed twice, they said, just five to seven minutes before we had arrived.

The wound in his ribs at the front looked bad from what I could see but I walked round to find a deep red gash about three inches long opening up the left hand side of his back. He wasn’t bleeding heavily and no-one seemed to know what to do, least of all me. His T-shirt was soaked with blood but there wasn’t much on the pavement.

The operator was asking, “Where are his injuries? Is he still breathing?” and 100 other questions while my girlfriend relayed the answers back and told them over and over: “It’s critical. He needs an ambulance NOW.”

One was already on its way, the operator said, but even from The Whittington Hospital it seemed to take an age.

Time seemed to stretch and then become detached completely. In the time before emergency services arrived – it felt like 15 minutes but was probably closer to three or four – his face turned greyer still.

I felt pretty helpless just watching this poor man’s life drain away in front of me.

One minute he’s a living, breathing being and the next, a motionless body with men and women fighting to keep him in this world.

Police arrived first, then an ambulance. I went to comfort my girlfriend and the next thing I knew they were performing cardiac massage on the pavement.

As he was pulled onto a stretcher a copper led us a few paces away and took our details. He told us they had got his pulse back, but I’m sure this was to calm our fears – over his shoulder I could see a yellow jacket still pumping up and down in the back of the ambulance.

We both wavered between numbness and shocked tears. It is still sinking in.

Had we left our friends in the central London pub just 20 seconds earlier, we would have caught the previous Tube instead of waiting around for seven minutes. Those seven minutes at the other end of our journey could have proved lifesaving.

We will never know. Despite working as a journalist for five years and covering most of the spate of this year’s murders in Edmonton myself, the shock of watching a man die in front you, and being virtually powerless to stop it, is profound.

His face has burnt itself into my mind and I don’t think it will ever leave.