`It is all close to insanity. Sometimes I feel I should die now. I don't because of our son'

Memories of a murder: the lover of Rachel Nickell describes his continuing struggle

The partner of Rachel Nickell, the woman murdered on Wimbledon Common four years ago, would have committed suicide had it not been for their son, he said yesterday.

"I have come close to losing my mind because the whole thing is close to insanity," Andre Hanscombe, 33, said. "There are still times when I feel enough is enough, that I should go now. But I don't because of Alex."

The child, then two, was found clinging to his mother's body, covered in her blood and too shocked to speak. He rarely cries over his ordeal, said Mr Hanscombe, who was speaking in advance of the publication of his book, The Last Thursday In July: The Story Of Those Left Behind.

"His survival instinct is so strong and he copes so well that you get used to him being almost blase about everything.

"When he does break down it is terrifying. You realise that it is there all the time and he is just dealing with it.

"Maybe once a year something will trigger it off. He nearly lost his thumb in a farm gate once and he went to pieces, shouting, `I'm going to die, I'm going to die'. It was total trauma. All sorts of things came out over that but he was back in control that afternoon."

Alex, the only witness to the murder in July 1992, weeks before his third birthday, describes his mother's killer as "the bad man". He can recall the killer and his clothes, the knife he produced, and how he washed in a stream after his savage attack. But he has never described how his mother was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times. "The moment he focuses on that it is overwhelming and he blanks it out," Mr Hanscombe told the Mail on Sunday.

The murder remains unsolved. Colin Stagg, a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, was acquitted of her murder when the judge, Mr Justice Ognall, ruled that the prosecution evidence, obtained by an undercover woman police officer, was inadmissible. Alex has never been shown a photo of Mr Stagg and has never been asked formally to identify him.

Mr Hanscombe, who moved to France with his son shortly after he murder, said he could not look to the future. "There used to be a point I looked to - `after the trial'. But now there is nothing to focus on ahead," he said. Neither could he contemplate having another partner. "Rachel made me promise if anything ever happened to her that I would find somebody else - not become a hermit, living on memories," he said. "I told her the same thing so I know she is right intellectually, but even the thought of it makes me feel unfaithful. I still have a relationship with Rachel and I don't want to let her down. She has been hurt enough as it is."

Mr Hanscombe began writing his book shortly after Ms Nickell's death. "I wrote it so that my memories would be permanently stored and so that I could find some peace," he explained. "This way I am not going over things with the same intensity, afraid that things might slip away from me."

The book is also for Alex, so he can read it "when he is ready". But Mr Hanscombe realises that he may not wish to do so. "Perhaps his curiosity to know more about Rachel's death will not be awakened because he knows enough. He already knows what happened. He saw everything."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Infrastructure Technical Lead - up to £45k DOE - Surrey

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Technical Architect - Surrey - £35k-£45k DOE - Permanent

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week