RACHEL Nickell was brutally murdered on Wimbledon Common in front of her two-year-old son, almost 30 years ago.
And Alex Hanscombe, now 32, has recalled the horrific moment he watched his mother as she was stabbed 49 times by psychopathic schizophrenic and serial rapist, Robert Napper.
Despite being just a month away from his third birthday at the time, Alex says the traumatic events are “one of his strongest memories as a child”.
In Channel 4 documentary, Death On The Common: My Mother’s Murder, he says: “My memories of that morning go back to walking hand in hand with my mother beneath the warm Wimbledon sky.
“Suddenly, a stranger came out of the blue, I was grabbed, thrown roughly to the ground.
“A few seconds later, my mother collapsed on the ground beside me.”
But, due to the love of his father Andre Hanscombe, he still manages to feel "blessed" by life.
‘Wake up mummy!’
Alex, who has worked as a yoga teacher in Barcelona, Spain, in recent years, clearly remembers the moment he knew his mum had died.
He explains how he rushed over to her and tried to wake her up to no avail.
He says: “I remember saying, ‘Wake up, mummy,’ and she didn’t respond.
“I said it again, and she still didn’t respond.
“‘Wake up, mummy,’ I said, for a third time, and at that moment, I knew my mother was gone and she was never coming back.”
‘Stabbing his pen repetitively’
In the documentary, Alex reunites with child psychologist Dr Jean Harris-Hendriks, who was hired by the police to coax information out of him about his mum's killer.
Coming face to face for the first time in nearly 30 years, Dr Jean looks close to tears as she embraces him.
“I have never ever forgotten you,” she tells him, before explaining how he would often be “quiet, stabbing his pen repetitively,” in their sessions.
Alex tells her, “Those sessions became torture for me.
“I was made to relive the same day over and over again.”
‘Writhing around like a distressed animal’
Alex’s father Andre Hanscombe was left to look after his son when Rachel died.
And he recalls how Alex would suffer with horrific nightmares for months after witnessing the murder.
Andre says: “He’d go down to sleep soundly, just like any other kid, for the first five to seven hours.
“But then there’d be a time in the very early hours of the morning where it would all kick off.
“He’d be moaning, writhing, and spasming, like a distressed animal, and it was clear he was in a world where he was fighting and struggling.”
Andre remembers how the “number one challenge” for him was how to deal with his son and his trauma, while also dealing with his own grief, as well as the “practical necessities of everyday life”.
In the beginning, he would try and wake his son up, and “shake him out of it,” but he realised he needed to go through this on his own.
“Looking at a small child, this was your battle and if I tried to get you out of it, I’d prolong the agony,” he says to his son.
‘Feels like yesterday’
Seven months after Rachel’s death, Andre took Alex to the south of France to “save him from the circus around him” and help him cope.
They later moved to Barcelona, where they live now.
And in the documentary, they return to the UK for the first time since 1993.
As they go back to their former house, and the spot where Rachel was cruelly taken from them, they both say “ it feels like it could’ve been yesterday”.
The Green Chain Rapist
Bungling cops spent months "honeytrapping" innocent man Colin Stagg, accusing him of murdering Rachel.
He was arrested and charged on August 17, 1993, and held in custody for a year.
But the case was thrown out at the Old Bailey in 1994 by Mr Justice Ognall, who refused to put the undercover officer's evidence before a jury.
It wasn't until 2008 that serial rapist and killer Robert Napper, who was already in Broadmoor at the time for the murder of model Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine, finally confessed to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Colin was awarded a then-record £706,000 compensation from the Home Office, which he described as "like winning the lottery".
Robert is also believed to be the “Green Chain Rapist” who carried out at least 70 rapes and sexual assaults over a four year period in the early Nineties.
Alex and Andre go and visit the Green Chain, and confess they feel “inextricably connected” to the place and his other victims, as they stand there.
“They were attacked by the same man as me and my mother, as well as countless other women,” Alex says.
But he also acknowledges that, due to the fact Jazmine was killed by him, he feels “lucky and fortunate, in spite of everything, to still stand here”.
“Now we know that wasn’t the case for some of the other families, I always felt in some ways I was protected,” he adds.
‘We feel very blessed’
It’s amazing that Alex can find the positives from his mother’s horrendous death, and he does that in his gratitude for his father as well.
He notes that if his father hadn’t been there for him, “there’s no telling where his life would’ve become”.
Alex explains: “What my father and me treasure above anything is the feeling that we will forever carry with us from all the special moments shared with each other — the feeling of love, of loving and being loved in return."
He adds: "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."
Death On The Common: My Mother’s Murder is on Channel 4 at 10pm tonight.
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