Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

'Our lives have changed forever'

Andrew and Monica Nickell outside the Old Bailey
The couple said they had no daughter to talk to in their old age
Andrew and Monica Nickell finally saw their daughter's killer brought to justice after 16 years of agony.

Rachel Nickell was stabbed 49 times in front of her two-year-old son Alex on Wimbledon Common in south-west London on 15 July 1992.

Her parents were at the Old Bailey, along with Andre Hanscombe, the man their daughter loved and the father of her son, to hear Robert Napper plead guilty to the killing.

As a lawyer read her husband's words to a hushed courtroom, Mrs Nickell fought back tears.

We have been asked to provide an impact statement to try and describe how Rachel's murder has affected us.

This is a bit like trying to describe how you felt after being run over by a very large truck.

In both cases you come out of a coma month/years later having lived through a period when you were not really conscious of what was going on but you keep on automatically breathing and eating.

When you come to, you gradually realise what you have lost.

The greatest loss is your future. All the things that any family hopes for and expects are completely smashed.

There will be no daughter to talk to in our old age, no grandchildren to love and admire. At a stroke all this has been removed.

The next loss is your anonymity. Your life is trampled on by the media. You are gawked at in supermarkets. You are avoided by so called friends who think some bad luck will rub off on them.

Your son is devastated as he is very close to his sister. He avoids any close relationship because he fears losing someone else.

Your mother, in her 80s, cries every day and wishes she had been taken instead.

Your daughter's partner retreats into pain and blame without the guidance and love of your daughter. After a few years he moves abroad and later you are stopped from seeing your only grandson.

You become ever more wary of strangers. You reveal nothing because they might be media or have contacts with the media.

You fight the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for recompense for Alex for losing his mother in horrible circumstances and the loss of her love and parenting skills for the 15 years until he is 18.

After seven years he is awarded a derisory amount.

The home secretary tells you that there is no appeal against this award. You deal year after year with the machinery of the Crown and the ever-changing teams of police and specialists. Some of them care deeply but they come and go.

To say one man has destroyed our lives is too strong. But that one man has changed it forever.

You learn to accommodate these changes but the pain remains with you every minute of every day.

Every day Rachel's name is mentioned, her photograph published or her home videos shown, everything comes flooding back.

We hope the man who committed the crime will spend the rest of his life in prison.

That is the sentence he has given us.


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