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When Jason Mahoney stared down the barrel of a Libyan gun

Jason Mahoney, a construction worker who made a dramatic escape from Libya
Jason Mahoney, a construction worker who made a dramatic escape from Libya

A plasterer has spoken of the terrifying moment he thought he was going to be executed as he fled from violence in Libya.

Father-of-three Jason Mahoney, 41, of Common Way, Hothfield, was in a pick-up truck on his way to Egypt when he was stopped by anti-Gaddafi rebels and a gun was pointed in his face.

"One of them clicked a magazine into his machine gun and poked it through the window," he said. "I thought 'I can't believe I'm going to be killed half a mile from the Egyptian border'. I just closed my eyes thinking if I don't see it, I won't feel it. Then one of the other men pushed him away and the policeman we were with tried to calm it all down."

Mr Mahoney was working in Libya as the finishing manager on the construction of a £40 million luxury hotel and villa complex in Al Birdi, believed to be for Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif.

His ordeal began on Saturday, February 19, when protestors and looters raided the development site in a convoy of vehicles, shouting and firing guns into the air.

He feared the worst when he was told that fellow Brit and project manager Paul Lynch had been shot, but luckily he had only suffered a minor flesh wound to his head from a shotgun ricochet.

The workmen were taken to the safety of the nearby village Masaad by local policeman Shaib Saad but when they returned, everything of value had either been taken or destroyed.

Mr Mahoney said: "They had taken everything. All I had left was what I was standing in. What they couldn't take, they had smashed and burnt. They took doors, they took all the Bengali and Filipino workers' food. They smashed all the water tanks so we didn't have any water."

After two nights in the village, the Brits made the decision to escape to Egypt in a pick-up truck with the policeman, two Chadian workers and an Egyptian.

"I knew we had to get out of there," said Mr Mahoney. "We couldn't go to Tripoli so I knew the only way we could get out was to go through Egypt."

It was then the group were stopped and chased by gun-weilding rebels who believed they were mercenaries working for Gaddafi. After getting through the check point and into Egypt, Mr Mahoney was able to call his wife Michelle before flying home to her and his children Max, 21, Elliott, 19, and Molly, 18 last Thursday.

"Michelle was over the moon," he said. "She thought I was dead somewhere."

"It was very, very scary. I'm just glad to have got out alive."

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