Woman critically ill after attack

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Detectives hunting an attacker who left a woman critically ill yesterday fear that the assailant could strike again.

Ann Fidler, 43, was discovered by her husband, Brett, suffering from a fractured skull and neck lacerations at their Eastleigh home, in Hampshire, on Wednesday evening.

She was taken to Southampton General hospital where she underwent emergency surgery, but yesterday remained critically ill and heavily sedated.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Stickler, leading the inquiry, said police were treating the attack as attempted murder.

"You have to assume it is quite possible this person could attack again," he said. "At this stage, we do not know the motive."

Mr Fidler, who works at a local gymnasium, found his wife when he returned to their three-bedroomed end-of- terrace house.

There were no signs of a break-in at the house leading police to believe that Mrs Fidler, who also works at the gymnasium but had taken the afternoon off, may have let her attacker in.

Detectives, who interviewed Mr Fidler during the evening and yesterday morning, said he was shocked and was being comforted by relatives.

A police spokesman said yesterday: "We know what weapon was used to cause the injuries but we are not releasing that information.

She added: "All we are saying is that she has severe head injuries, lacerations and fractures.

"The woman is critically ill. We may not be able to unravel the truth or know more details until she is well enough to speak to us."

Detective Chief Inspector Stickler appealed for any information that might lead to the attacker.

He said: "I am very keen to speak to anybody who knows Ann, her background and her habits.

"I am particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have seen her before the attack."