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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Suspect 'fits offender profile'
Abigail Witchalls with occupational therapist Emma Linley
Mrs Witchalls has slowly been regaining movement in hospital
A psychologist who followed the Abigail Witchalls stabbing case has said characteristics of suspect Richard Cazaly fit the offender profile.

Professor David Canter said the way the stabbing was carried out was consistent with a confused, sudden, "unthought-through" attack.

He said the Surrey attack would have left police with a profile that led to a "really short list of suspects".

Police passed Mr Cazaly's file to the Crown Prosecution Service in August.

'Rather impulsive'

Mr Canter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, said he had only looked at information already in the public domain but he said Mr Cazaly showed characteristics that were consistent with him being the offender.

Abigail Witchalls with her son Joseph
A knife was held to Mrs Witchalls' son before she was stabbed

He said it was a "sudden" attack that was part of a "confused set of activities" that included the presence of Mrs Witchalls' son at the scene, her attempt to escape through a gate, and the buggy being thrown at her.

"It gave the impression of somebody making a rather impulsive and unthought-through attack as part of a confused attempt either to stop her screaming or running away," he said.

"It would fit in with somebody who was disinhibited by drink or drugs or both.

"He wasn't thinking terribly clearly and his emotions were on a very short trigger."

Stockbroker belt

He said police would have looked for someone with local knowledge of a footpath that was not commonly used by walkers.

"It went through the back of houses and was a shortcut through woods," he said.

"You would expect the attacker would be someone who would know that area rather well. And that area is stockbroker belt. There are not many people of that sort in the area.

Abigail Witchalls with her husband and son by her bedside
Abigail Witchalls can now breathe without a ventilator

"It gave police a really short list of suspects to work through."

The behavioural scientist added that it was consistent with this type of sudden attack for an offender to have a remorseful response and even try to kill themselves.

And he said Mrs Witchalls' attention would have been drawn to the knife instead of the attacker's face, which he said could explain why she did not pick him out in a photo ID parade.

"We do know from many studies in psychology that if a knife has been involved, people's attention tends to be drawn to the knife.

"It is also likely she tried not to stare him in the face and tried to get away from him.

"She was also concerned about her son and it all adds up to a situation where she did not get as good a look at the offender as you might expect."

ID parade

Richard Cazaly, 23, has been treated as a suspect in the case since his apparent suicide from an overdose in Scotland just days after the attack on 20 April.

Mrs Witchalls was stabbed in the back of the neck as she pushed her toddler son Joseph along a lane in Little Bookham, Surrey.

She is currently receiving treatment at the Spinal Injuries Unit at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north London.

Mr Cazaly, from Fleet, Hampshire, had similarities to a description given by Mrs Witchalls and had been living in a house on Water Lane, Little Bookham, close to the scene of the attack.

Although she failed to pick him out in a photo ID parade from her hospital bed, Surrey Police believe they have evidence linking him to the attack.

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