Mother paralysed in stabbing mouths details to police

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The Independent Online

A mother left paralysed and unable to speak after she was stabbed in the neck has given police details of the attack using her facial expressions.

A mother left paralysed and unable to speak after she was stabbed in the neck has given police details of the attack using her facial expressions.

Abigail Witchalls, 26, who is 10 weeks pregnant, can communicate from her hospital bed only by mouthing "yes" and "no" and blinking.

Police hope that Mrs Witchalls, who was pushing her son Joseph, 21 months, in a buggy when she was stabbed in the Surrey village of Little Bookham on Wednesday, will be able to provide crucial information about her attacker. The interview, which is being carried out by two women detectives, is being recorded on video.

The young mother is thought to have whispered to a neighbour, before she lost consciousness, that the assailant was a white man who she did not recognise. She is believed to be the only person, apart from her son, to have seen the attack.

The part-time teacher was stabbed in the back of the neck leaving her paralysed. It is not yet clear if she will recover from her injuries or whether her unborn child survived.

Doctors at St George's hospital, in Tooting, south London, where Mrs Witchalls is being treated, told Surrey Police the victim was strong enough to give detectives a statement.

The young woman's condition was described as "stable" yesterday. When Mrs Witchalls was admitted to hospital on Wednesday doctors did not expect her to survive.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Harper, of Surrey Police, said: "I am very pleased for Abigail and her family that her condition now appears to be stabilising and that she is able to communicate with them and us.

"Members of my team are now in the process of taking a statement from Abigail about what happened. Apart from her son Joseph, Abigail is the only person who saw her attacker and the information she may be able to give us will be crucial to our investigation.

"Both Abigail and her family have handled the terrible situation in which they find themselves with enormous dignity and courage, and I believe that Abigail will want to give us all the help that she can to find the person who attacked her."

Det Supt Harper said that more than 300 members of the public had contacted the inquiry room, providing several leads. He said: "The incident room has been flooded with information, much of it needing to be followed up and my team has been constantly working to work through these actions."

It is still unknown whether the attack was random or an attempted robbery - the woman's cash was not stolen.

A 28-year-old man whose car was reported near the crime scene was questioned for 30 hours at the weekend but was released on bail on Saturday night. A 29-year-old woman who was arrested with the man has been eliminated from the inquiry and released without charge.