DNA tests rule out suspect in Abigail Witchalls case

Bloodstains found in a car belonging to a prime suspect in the attempted murder of Abigail Witchalls did not come from the 26-year-old mother, tests have found.

The DNA results appear to rule out the suspect, fuelling expectations that a chef, who committed suicide shortly after Mrs Witchalls was stabbed, will be named as the attacker. Detectives investigating the assault on Mrs Witchalls and her 21-month-old son in Little Bookham, Surrey, are increasingly sure that the man responsible was 23-year-old Richard Cazaly.

The second man, a 25-year-old who has been arrested and bailed in connection with the attack, had been considered a strong suspect. Blood samples were found on the steering wheel and door of a car belonging to the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons. A third bloodstain was recovered from a doorknob at a property the suspect had visited.

DNA results for the samples showthe blood was not Mrs Witchalls', a spokesman for Surrey Police said. The suspect was in the area at the time of the attack and matched the attacker's description given by Mrs Witchalls, but she did not pick him out in an identity parade. The blood came from an associate of the suspect.

Meanwhile, police have recovered traces of DNA from sweat left on the handle of the buggy that Mrs Witchalls was pushing with her son, Joseph, when she was stabbed in the neck and left paralysed. Her assailant is known to have grabbed the buggy. It will take several days to analyse the samples.

Evidence points increasingly to Cazaly, a part-time chef and gardener. A senior police officer said: "It looks likely Cazaly is our man, but that doesn't mean the search is over. We've got more tests to come back and several suspects to check out."

Police are preparing to show Mrs Witchalls a photographic identity parade of 12 men, including Cazaly, who lived in Little Bookham. He died, apparently from an overdose, in Edinburgh on 30 April.