A war reporter has told how journalist Terry Lloyd's cameraman begged her to drive him back into a firefight to save his colleagues after she discovered him on a road.
Barbara Jones, working unilaterally in southern Iraq for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, told how cameraman Daniel Demoustier came "half-running, half-crawling" towards their van as they neared the Shatt Al Basra Bridge area.
She told the Oxford inquest he was "very wild – he was covered in white sand and appeared very distressed".
Demoustier was pulled into their 4×4 where he began to tell of his ordeal.
The ITN team, travelling independently, had been advancing towards Basra when they got caught up in crossfire between Iraqi and US troops.
Lloyd's body was later recovered, as was that of his Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman. French cameraman Fred Nerac is still officially missing.
Speaking on the third day of Lloyd's inquest, Jones told how she and military advisor John Windham had been driving towards Basra when they met Demoustier.
She said:"He told me he had been hiding in a ditch for hours and waiting from someone to come along but his main concern, his only concern really, was that his colleagues were somewhere in some terrible mess."
She said he told her machine gun fire had ignited petrol tanks on the ITN vehicle. "He had put his head down and carried on blindly driving," she said. "When he looked over, Terry was gone."
"Dan was begging us to go back, to talk to someone, to do something. I said no. That would have been certain death."
Earlier the inquest heard that Lloyd was shot in the head by American troops as he was driven to safety during an Iraqi gunfight.
The evidence came from Nicholas Walshe, an ITN journalist who was asked to investigate what happened in the days following the 50-year-old veteran reporter's death on March 22, 2003, near Basra in southern Iraq.
Walshe, working with private investigators from security firm AKE, said he spoke to a number of Iraqi witnesses who claimed to be at the scene when Lloyd was shot.
One witness, he said, told him he had been driving a minibus from Al Zubayr when it was commandeered to pick up causalities from an Iraqi gunfight.
He told the inquest Lloyd appeared to have been shot in the shoulder and had to be lifted into the minibus. He said the witness then told him: "Terry was then shot in the head by US troops."
The inquest also heard from a British soldier who gave evidence from behind a screen to protect his identity. He told the coroner he had seen the episode from a vantage point some distance away.
The soldier said he saw three vehicles – understood to be that of Lloyd and cameraman Daniel Demoustier; that of French cameraman Fred Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman; and an Iraqi pick-up truck with a machine gun mounted on the back.
He said he saw a brief exchange of fire between the Iraqi pick-up truck and a tank, before the pick-up truck burst into flames.
He told the coroner: "My recollection is that the tank engaged the vehicles. Vehicle one (Lloyd's vehicle) also ignited and went off to the side of the road to its right and came to rest on the side of a field, burning."
The inquest continues.