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STAB MUM COULD BE PARALYSED FOR LIFE; Father's fears for daughter attacked in front of toddler.

Byline: BY ROY BAYLISS

STAB horror mum Abigail Witchalls may be paralysed for life, it was feared last night.

Abigail, 26, was viciously stabbed in front of her toddler son during the attack in the wealthy Surrey village of Little Bookham.

Yesterday, it emerged that the attractive young teacher was communicating with her family in hospital using 'her eyes, lips and facial expressions'.

Abigail is now in a stable condition and is beginning to regain some feeling in her body. But her father, Martin Hollins, said her injuries were so severe that she was not expected to make a full recovery. He said she would almost certainly be disabled.

Initially, it was feared that she would die. Abigail was stabbed in the neck as she walked along a lane with her 21 month-old son, Joseph, last Wednesday.

The toddler, who was not attacked, asked for his mummy as soon as he woke up yesterday.

Mr Hollins, who is looking after Joseph, said: 'I'm very, very proud of Abigail and how she is dealing with this.

'She's making a tremendous fight of this and we just have to pray for her.'

Science teacher Mr Hollins told how initially he thought his daughter was going to die

'All I can remember now is the tremendous shock,' he said. 'It just seems so far away now.

'Fortunately we have some hope. Initially, we had absolutely no hope at all.'

Mr Hollins said his daughter's injuries were severe but she was coping well so far.

'She has communicated enough for us to know that she knows quite a lot about her condition,' he said.

'It is very serious and almost certainly long-term disabling. Somehow she has the strength of spirit to deal with that.'

He made a desperate plea for anyone who knew anything about the attack to come forward.

Mr Hollins said of his grandson: 'I heard him wake this morning and his first calls were for his mum.

'He doesn't have many words but he saw what happened. What we have no idea of is what effect it has had on him.

'Only time will tell.'

Abigail's husband, Benoit, 26, is still keeping vigil at his wife's bedside and it was left to Mr Hollins to tell of the agonising hours after his daughter was stabbed.

'We rushed to the hospital and there was a long wait,' he said. 'Then we met the surgeons and it was terribly bad news.

'We stayed there through the night. On the way home in the morning we were thinking she wouldn't survive. She had less than a 50% chance of survival.

'She's getting a bit better now but we know it's going to be a long and difficult time.

'Her husband has been there every night and will, I'm sure, be there for days yet. For him it's just unbelievable. He's the one we really, really want to support.'

Mr Hollins said that before the attack his daughter had been at a very happy stage in her life, living with her husband and son.

Detectives are still questioning a28 year-old man and 29 year-old woman on suspicion of attempted murder after they gave themselves up at Leatherhead police station on Friday.

Forensic scientists were yesterday carring out tests on a car seized by police

CAPTION(S):

EMOTION: Martin Hollins
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 24, 2005
Words:554
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