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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 16:36 GMT
How Cazaly became prime suspect
By James Clarke
BBC News

Richard Cazaly
Surrey Police said Richard Cazaly had persistently lied to them
Richard Cazaly was questioned twice by police in the days following the attempted murder of Abigail Witchalls.

Surrey Police have said Mr Cazaly would have faced criminal charges if he had not killed himself within days of the stabbing in April.

It was his suicide, after driving from Surrey to Scotland, which made him the centre of attention.

In his two encounters with police he was regarded as a potential witness.

He lived and worked near the scene of the attack - employed at a garden centre on the other side of a hedge alongside a path Mrs Witchalls walked down before being stabbed.

All the evidence points to Richard Cazaly as the offender
Det Supt Adrian Harper

Between 20 April, when Mrs Witchalls was attacked, and 25 April, when Cazaly is believed to have driven to Scotland, officers spoke to him during routine house-to-house inquiries and then again at a random road check.

On 26 April Cazaly's name was given to police by a neighbour as someone they should speak to, but even then he was thought to be one of about 40 people of a similar status.

Two days later he was admitted to hospital in Inverness after taking an overdose of paracetamol - on 30 April he died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Mrs Witchalls gave a description of the attacker. It fitted Mr Cazaly's general appearance but also featured some differences - he had a distinctive three-quarter-inch hole in one earlobe, but she described her attacker as having two looped silver earrings.

A police officer patrols the scene of the stabbing
Richard Cazaly lived and worked near the attack scene

DNA tests on the buggy Mrs Witchalls was pushing at the time of the attack drew a blank and she then failed to pick out Mr Cazaly in a photograph identity parade.

But a description she gave of the attacker's car was very similar to Mr Cazaly's blue Volvo 440 and tyre tracks near the attack scene matched the car.

Police found a bag of knives in Mr Cazaly's car after his death and two handwritten notes, one of which included what detectives called "an implied confession".

Hunting knife

When Surrey Police announced they believed Mr Cazaly was the attacker detectives listed why he had been earmarked as the key suspect.

  • They said they knew he had been hunting in the woods on the day of the attack and the hunting knife he carried had never been found.

  • Detectives said they could now prove the car in which Mrs Witchalls saw the attacker flee was Mr Cazaly's Volvo.

  • Two police dogs had independently tracked Mr Cazaly's scent from close to the site of the stabbing to the location of the car.

  • Police said he was a long-term abuser of drugs, recently heavily using cannabis and amphetamines, which they said could trigger psychotic behaviour.

  • Surrey Police said Mr Cazaly had persistently lied to them, his friends and his girlfriend about not being in the woods on the afternoon of the attack.

  • And they pointed to his suicide on the day following the circulation of Mrs Witchalls' description of the attacker - and the note of apparent confession.

The Crown Prosecution Service stressed the decision to declare the case solved with sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Cazaly meant he would have been charged if alive, but did not mean he was guilty of the offence.

But Det Supt Adrian Harper of Surrey Police said: "The investigation is concluded. All the evidence points to Richard Cazaly as the offender."




SEE ALSO:
Abigail attempted murder 'solved'
22 Nov 05 |  Southern Counties
Police hand over Abigail evidence
03 Aug 05 |  Southern Counties
Main Abigail suspect to be named
15 Jun 05 |  Southern Counties
DNA tests on dead Abigail suspect
12 May 05 |  Southern Counties
Young mother stabbed in the neck
21 Apr 05 |  Southern Counties


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