30 June 2005

Smiling Abigail: 'I feel incredibly blessed'



New photos of Abigail Witchalls, who was paralysed after a stabbing in April, show signs of the recovery which has given hope to her family and amazed her doctors.

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Abigail Witchalls with her occupational therapist

The pictures show her working with Emma Linley, her occupational therapist, on improving the movement which is slowly returning to all of her limbs - particularly her right hand.

Mrs Witchalls, who is being treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, said: "I'm exited by every bit of progress and happy to be able to spend more time with Joseph. I'm in good hands and feel incredibly blessed."

The 26-year-old, who is pregnant with her second child, can now lift her right arm a small amount and is able to move the fingers in her right hand.

She can even sit up in a wheelchair for most of the day, is able to speak softly and has begun to eat small amounts of pureed food.

Such a recovery seemed unlikely after Mrs Witchalls was stabbed in the neck in front of her 23-month-old son Joseph as she pushed his buggy down a quiet country lane in her home village of Little Bookham, Surrey.

She was considered likely to die, or be permanently paralysed, when she first arrived in hospital after the attack on April 20.

Her husband, Benoit added: "Members of the family spend time with Abigail every day.

"We all enjoy sharing her sense of achievement in her progress, and her positive attitude to her continuing serious disability. We are looking forward to the time when she will be able to resume family life with us all."

The hospital confirmed that scans at seven and 11 weeks showed Abigail's pregnancy was "progressing normally".

Police are still "one or two weeks away" from passing a file to the Crown Prosecution Service putting forward a man who killed himself as a suspect for the brutal stabbing.

Richard Cazaly, 23, died in Edinburgh, apparently from an overdose, after fleeing Little Bookham, Surrey. Police are hoping to talk to Abigail again soon and show her pictures of cars, in a bid to identify to her attacker's vehicle.

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