THE tormented son of tragic Rachel Nickell has revealed how he cried "wake up mummy" after she was murdered in front of him.
Alex Hanscombe was just a toddler when Rachel, 23, was stabbed 49 times and sexually assaulted as they walked on Wimbledon Common in 1992.
A horrified passer-by later found Alex clinging to his slain mother's blood-soaked body.
The now 32-year-old, who lives with his dad in Barcelona, has opened up about Rachel's death.
He told the Daily Mail: "My strongest memory is of waving goodbye to my father at home.
"Then it moves on to walking hand-in-hand with my mother on the common. I remember making our way into the trees, walking with our dog, Molly.
"I remember a stranger walking up towards us. I remember being grabbed and thrown around roughly.
"And I remember my mother being grabbed and thrown around, collapsing on the floor beside me. And I remember the realisation of what happened.
"I said: 'Wake up, Mummy.’ And she didn’t respond. So I said again: 'Wake up, Mummy,' and she didn’t respond.
"Even as a three-year-old child, I knew my mother was gone. She wasn’t coming back."
Former model Rachel was settling into life as a full-time mum when she was brutally murdered by a complete stranger.
Serial sex offender Robert Napper had lurched from bushes and attacked her in a frenzied knife attack.
Rachel's throat had been slit, with cuts on her hands showing she had put up a fight.
Tragically, little Alex had stuck a piece of paper on his tragic mum like a plaster "to make mummy better".
A huge police investigation was launched and 14 men were arrested in connection with her murder but all of them were released.
As the probe turned out more dead ends, officers put pressure on Alex to provide the smoking gun that could catch his mum's killer.
This demand on the traumatised toddler caused dad Andre to move them both to the South of France and later Barcelona.
But the move caused a rift between Andre and Rachel's parents that was deepened when they reportedly chose to see Alex when he reached 16 instead of maintaining a relationship.
Alex said: "When I got to 19, I reached out to them to get a sense of where they were.
"Unfortunately, the relationship just didn’t pick up on a deeper level. We exchanged several letters but the communication just died away naturally."
The police investigation continued in the UK after the father and son moved abroad and on September 21, 1992, cops targeted Colin Stagg.
The 29-year-old newspaper delivery man had been fined £200 after he pleaded guilty to indecent exposure on Wimbledon Common.
No forensic evidence linked Stagg to the scene but cops asked criminal psychologist Paul Britton to create an offender profile of the killer and decided he was their prime suspect.
A year later in August 1993, Stagg was charged with Rachel's murder and stood trial a year later at the Old Bailey.
Stagg refused to eat for six days during this time.
Just months later, the trial collapsed after the judge condemned a police undercover operation in which a female officer exchanged a series of letters with Stagg.
Operation Ezdell – later branded a "honey trap" by Mr Justice Ognall – gave a female undercover officer the pseudonym Lizzie James.
Lizzie contacted Stagg and over five months wrote more than 40 letters, each more explicit than the last.
'CHAIN OF ERRORS'
By the end, Lizzie was virtually demanding Stagg confess to Rachel's murder in return for sadomasochistic sex.
But even faced with the opportunity to confess to the murder in return for the sex he so desperately craved, Stagg insisted he had nothing to do with Rachel dying.
The prosecution withdrew its case and Stagg was formally acquitted in September 1994 and later given more than £700,000 in compensation.
Alex said: "It’s very unfortunate what happened to Stagg. It was one of a chain of errors made by the police, focusing on him and missing opportunities to apprehend the real killer."
It was not until 2008, 16 years after the attack, that Robert Napper, then 41, admitted stabbing Rachel.
Napper had been a patient at Broadmoor Hospital for more than ten years suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and Asperger's.
He had been convicted of killing Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine in November 1993 – 16 months after Rachel was slain.
Advances in DNA profiling meant police were able to link Napper to the murder in 2004.
He was convicted of her manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Police had missed a series of chances to arrest Napper before his six-year spree of sex and rape attacks was brought to an end.
Alex and Andre have never received any compensation for the bungled probe despite Met Police chief Cressida Dick admitting "more should have done".
She wrote to the family in 2010 while Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard saying the force "could have been in a better position to have prevented dreadful attacks by Robert Napper, including Rachel’s death".
Alex believes his mother would still be alive if it wasn't for mistakes made by the police that allowed Napper to roam free.
He said: "I feel that even though the police swear an oath to serve and protect the members of the British public, when mistakes are made and push comes to shove — forced to choose between the two — they choose to serve and protect themselves individually and as an organisation, and we have seen that over and again."
Rachel's murder is now being explored in Channel 4 documentary Death On The Common: My Mother’s Murder.
In it, Alex and Andre can be seen visiting the spot where Rachel was cruelly taken from them for the first time since 1993.
The father and son also pay their respects to Napper's first victims Samantha and Jazmine close to where they were killed in Plumstead.
Speaking about his close bond to his dad, Alex says: "If my mother had not passed away in the way that she had, we probably wouldn’t have the same depth of bond that we have today.
"So even though I know that there is something that we may have missed out on, there are things that we’ve done within this relationship.
"It’s probably the most important relationship in our lives. This is a 30-year journey we’ve been on together. We feel very blessed we’ve been able to maintain that."
Source: Read Full Article