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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Feeling is returning says Abigail
Abigail Witchalls with her son Joseph
Mrs Witchalls said she was "making progress every day"
Stabbing victim Abigail Witchalls has spoken of sensation returning to her body as she recovers in hospital.

In a statement, she said: "I can move my head, but as yet I cannot move my arms and legs. I can breathe and speak on my own for short periods."

Speaking from hospital in London, she added: "God is doing beautiful things."

Mrs Witchalls, 26, was stabbed on 20 April in Little Bookham, Surrey, while walking with her 21-month-old son Joseph in a buggy near their home.

She is being treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north-west London, which specialises in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

'Fantastic morale'

"The staff here are wonderful and I am making progress every day," she said.

"I have sensation over most of my body and the pain is less now."

She also asked to pass on her thanks "to everyone for their support and prayers".

Andrew Woodhead, the hospital's chief executive, said staff were encouraged by her bravery.

He said: "The feeling is that Abigail is making really good progress.

Scene from the Crimewatch reconstruction
The Crimewatch appeal will feature a reconstruction of the attack

"Her morale is fantastic and I know that's partly helped by the support from her friends and family and the public in general as well as from the staff here in Stanmore."

Dr Fred Middleton, consultant in spinal rehabilitation, said Mrs Witchalls had suffered a "very complex injury" and that it could take months before it would be clear how far she would recover.

Her husband Benoit has spoken publicly for the first time of his "remarkable" wife.

He is to appear on BBC One's Crimewatch programme on Wednesday which will feature a reconstruction of the attack.

Mr Witchalls said his wife had refused to let the attack destroy her life, adding: "We feel very lucky and very blessed because she is fully present as herself... it's a great joy.

"I think I've had a crash course in spinal injury, and you just can't tell anything for the first month so it's a case of wait and see really, but she's still got her smile which is very comforting to see."

Abigail's husband Benoit Witchalls
Benoit Witchalls said his wife Abigail still had her smile

He added: "You can see in her face when she sees Joseph - the reason that the first word that she mouthed was 'happy' was because she was so relieved that he came out of it unscathed, physically."

Det Supt Adrian Harper, who is leading the investigation, said Surrey Police had already received more than 700 calls, which had generated significant lines of inquiry.

Officers have been to Australia to interview the former girlfriend of one suspect, Richard Cazaly.

Mr Cazaly, 23, died after apparently taking an overdose in Scotland, having driven there from Little Bookham five days after the attack on Mrs Witchalls.

A 25-year-old man was arrested in Croydon, south London, a week after the attack and released two days later pending further forensic tests.

Mr Harper said newspaper reports suggesting police knew who had attacked Mrs Witchalls were not correct.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "I really don't know where that's come from, to suggest that is ridiculous.

"This speculation actually is unhelpful to my investigation."

Crimewatch can be seen on BBC One at 2100 BST on Wednesday.




BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
See part of Benoit Witchalls' Crimewatch interview



SEE ALSO:
Abigail suspect's knives examined
13 May 05 |  Southern Counties
Abigail police in Australia quiz
12 May 05 |  Southern Counties
Abigail family mourn grandmother
09 May 05 |  Southern Counties
Abigail inquiry suspect released
29 Apr 05 |  England
Knife held against Abigail's son
26 Apr 05 |  Southern Counties


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