The British Army was told to stay away from the Kingsmills area on the night 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead, the only survivor has claimed.
Alan Black said the rural part of South Armagh should have been swamped with police and soldiers after loyalists murdered members of the Catholic Reavey family the day before in the nearby village of Whitecross.
But he told the inquest someone in the Army had told another Kingsmills victim’s mother the military had been told to stay away.
“These gunmen walked away, they did not seem to be in any rush whatsoever, considering the crime they had just committed.
“They must have known that there was no police or army in the area.
“Considering what had happened the night before, my opinion is that the area would have been swamped with police and Army.”
The driver bringing the doomed workmen to Bessbrook had stopped in response to a red light and a command from a man with an English accent, assuming it was an angry soldier, Mr Black told the inquest.
“But there were no police or Army in the immediate area.”
Mr Black said he believed he was dying after the shooting and was determined to tell the truth of what happened to a priest he met at Daisy Hill Hospital on the outskirts of Newry.
“I had a decision to make - do I tell a lie and leave this world or tell the truth.
“I told the priest I was a Protestant but don’t leave me.”
With the passing of years he had thought the trauma would become easier.
“However it has some way closed in on me. I want the truth into these shootings, there can never be allowed any airbrushing by society of these terrible murders.”
He told the coroner he was giving evidence for the families of those who died but said the experience had been like riding a rollercoaster and he had been apprehensive and nervous.
“But then I console myself with the fact that I am doing something for the boys that died and for their families - it is something that had to be done.”