26/04/2005

Abigail’s attacker held knife to son’s throat

The man who stabbed young mother Abigail Witchalls in the neck first held a knife to the throat of her 21-month-old son Joseph, police said.

Mrs Witchalls, who is still in St Georges Hospital in south London, following the attack in Little Bookham, Surrey, last Wednesday, gave her statement to the police yesterday.

The 26-year-old part-time English teacher was left paralysed in the attack, but was able to communicate with police by mouthing words and blinking.

Abigail told police that she first saw her attacker at about 3:45 on the day she was attacked – April 20 – on the public footpath along Water Lane in Little Bookham. She said that he was in a blue estate car and that he looked at her as he drove past.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Harper said that Abigail told them this made her feel “very uneasy” and she put Joseph in his buggy and started to walk home along the track.

However, when she was about three-quarters of the way along the track, she turned and saw that the car had pulled up some way behind and that the man had left the car and was coming towards her.

Det Supt Harper said that Abigail started to panic and began running along the track, but when she reached a gate, she could not open it. She heard the man say ‘You have dropped your purse’ and when she turned around, she saw that he was holding Joseph and had a knife to his throat.

Det Supt Harper said that Abigail told police the man indicated for her to come towards him, which she did, and he grabbed her hair, pulled her towards the ground and stabbed her once in the back of the neck. Abigail told them the man then pushed the buggy, with Joseph still in it, on top of her and ran from the scene.

Abigail told police that she did not know the attacker, who was alone. She described him as being aged between 20-35-years-old, with short dark wavy or scruffy hair, a long thin face and prominent cheekbones, between 5ft 10in and 6ft 4in. She also described him as wearing “looped silver earrings, roughly three-quarters of an inch diameter in both ears” and said he had quite a deep voice and black bags under his eyes.

Abigail said she did not believe he was under the influence of drink or drugs and does not know why he attacked her. The man did not appear to have attempted to rob her and Abigail’s purse and mobile phone were not taken.

Police said that as a result of Abigail’s statement, the focus of the inquiry had changed and the man with the blue Peugeot who was arrested and released on bail at the weekend had now been ruled out of the inquiry.

Police have described Abigail’s attacker as “an extremely dangerous offender”. Det Supt Harper said: “Anyone who is prepared to threaten a young child and try to kill his mother in front of him is clearly capable of anything.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Rowley said that an “enormous operation” had been mounted to find Abigail’s attacker, with over 150 officers working on the case. He also said that “a wealth of material for forensic examination” had been gathered, but he urged the public to contact the police with any information regarding the attack in order to find the offender as quickly as possible.

(KMcA/SP)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

29 April 2005
Police granted more time to question Abigail suspect
Surrey police have been granted more time to question a 25-year-old man in connection with the stabbing of Abigail Witchalls last week. The man was arrested on Wednesday evening in Croydon, south London and is being held in custody at Staines police station. Police will now be able to question him until Saturday morning.
28 April 2005
Police arrest man in Abigail case
A 25-year-old Surrey man has been arrested in connection with the attack of Abigail Witchalls, police have confirmed. Surrey police confirmed that the man had been arrested last night, but said that the arrest was “only one line of inquiry” and said that police were still following up other information.
19 May 2005
Re-enactment provides new leads in Abigail stabbing
Surrey police have said they have received some significant information regarding the stabbing of Abigail Witchalls. A reconstruction of the attack, which happened in Little Bookham, Surrey, last month, appeared on BBC 1’s ‘Crimewatch’ show last night.
04 May 2005
Abigail transferred to spinal injuries unit
Abigail Witchalls, the young mother who was stabbed in the neck in a horrific attack two weeks ago, has been transferred to a specialist spinal injuries unit. The 26-year-old had been in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London since the attack, which left her paralysed.
14 April 2011
British Man Dies In Dubai Police Custody
A British man has died in police custody in Dubai. Lee Bradley Brown, 39, from east London, died on Tuesday after he was taken to a Dubai police station where he was allegedly assaulted and put into a cell. It has been reported that Mr Brown, was arrested over a row at the luxury hotel Burj Al Arab hotel.