The wife of a leading Welsh politician who witnessed Matthew Tvrdon’s white van rampage has revealed the killer was “deadly silent” and showed no emotion as he “methodically attacked” his victims.
Elizabeth Haywood, who is married to Neath MP Peter Hain, was on her way home on October 19 last year when she stopped for petrol at the Asda garage on Leckwith Road – unwittingly becoming a witness to Tvrdon’s horrific hit-and-run attack on mother and daughter Jill and Becky White.
In Cardiff Crown Court earlier this week, victims and their families in the public gallery gasped in horror as they were shown mobile phone footage of Tvrdon lashing out at other drivers in the petrol station with a crook lock before getting into his van and running down 49-year-old Jill White, dragging her for metres and then reversing his three-tonne van back over her.
The court heard that the crazed killer then drove off once more with Jill’s helpless body trapped underneath his front wheel.
When her daughter, 27-year-old Becky White, tried to stop him she also fell under his wheels and was dragged alongside her mum for up to 50 metres – as horrified motorists beeped their horns and even tried to open their car doors on Tvrdon to make him stop.
Incredibly, both women survived, although both spent weeks in hospital and suffered serious injuries – the scars of which they will carry for life.
Speaking to Wales on Sunday, Ms Haywood said she thought initially that she was witnessing a racist attack.
“I was on my way home and I was filling up with petrol when I heard some shouts to my right,” she said.
“I saw an Asian man being hit with a crook lock by a white man on the forecourt, then a Sikh man in the car in front got out to intervene and stop the attack but then he started to be beaten and had to flee.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and at first I thought this must be some kind of racist attack.
“But before anyone could do anything else Tvrdon had jumped in his white van and left the petrol station.
“What happened next was truly horrifying. Right in front of my eyes he ran over the woman, I could see her crushed under the wheels. He then reversed over her.
“It was utterly shocking. By then a younger woman had come to help the older lady and somehow she then ended up beneath the van too.
“I’m not sure exactly how it happened but both women were then dragged under the wheels of the van for a hundred yards before they were left lying in the road.
“I have never seen injuries so horrendous in my life and I never want to see anything like that ever again.
“The whole incident must have lasted less than five minutes but it felt like hours.”
Forensic examinations later found a 48m-long drag mark on the road that consisted of “blood and body tissue”.
Another mark, that was 54m long, ended in a “pool of blood”.
Ms Haywood told Wales on Sunday Tvrdon “methodically attacked” his victims like he was, “simply annoyed that these people were in his way”.
“Tvrdon did not look angry, if anything it looked like he was drugged, he was not in a frenzy, he was calm and deliberate,” she said.
“He looked like he was simply annoyed that these people were in his way and he was methodically attacking them to rid them from his presence.
“The strange thing was he wasn’t saying anything. He was deadly silent as he went about his business.
“It was like he was grumpy someone had gotten in his way and he was lashing out, like a child almost.”
In police interviews after his dramatic arrest, the killer at first claimed his head was “hazy” and said he couldn’t remember anything but knew he had “done a bad thing”.
After more questioning, he told police he had been trying to go somewhere where he could “relax” and “work out what I’d done” but had to go and fill up on diesel first.
But when he got to the petrol station, he said people were shouting at him and being “insulting and threatening”, because he was having trouble filling up his van.
Doctors later said Tvrdon was actually having auditory hallucinations and had imagined the comments.
Tvrdon told police he attacked fellow motorists with the crook lock to “defend himself” and that Jill and Becky White were goading him – another auditory hallucination.
He said that when he tried to drive away “traffic was slow” so he put his foot down, saying: “I think I knocked someone over”.
He said he reversed and then tried to drive forward faster but thought there was a problem with his steering.
In fact, Jill White was trapped under his front wheel.
After being shown a map, Tvrdon began to recollect what he had done, later telling police he had “wanted” to knock Jill White over because he believed she was one of the people conspiring against him.
He said: “She was one of the people just making me… just saying things like I was gay and stuff like that.
“The back of the van lifted up over her and I think she was dragged under it for a while because the van was out of control and I was trying to control it and then the steering came back.”
The steering “came back” because his severely injured victims had been dislodged from under the van’s wheels.
And as the killer heedlessly drove on, Jill and Becky White were left in the road fighting for their lives.
In interviews, Tvrdon added: “It felt like what I wanted to do was kill these people but, in actually doing it, it felt really wrong.
“It just felt really a sick thing to do. I was really horrendous and I was just in a blind panic.”
In a statement released after Tvrdon was found guilty of killing Karina Menzies and attempting to murder seven others – including Jill and Becky White – the mother and daughter said the events of October 19 had “dramatically altered” their lives.
Paying tribute to their family and friends and the emergency services to helped them, they said: “We wish to offer a personal and heartfelt thank you to the members of public who stayed by our sides and offered us comfort until the emergency services arrived. We would also like to thank South Wales Police for their support throughout the investigation.
“What happened to us on the October 19, 2012 has dramatically altered our lives and coming to terms with what has happened is, and will continue to be, a constant struggle. Therefore, we ask that you respect our wishes to be allowed to carry on with our lives in private.
“Finally, we send our deepest sympathy to Karina Menzies’ children and family and the other victims of this incident.”