Rachel Nickell's brutal murder on Wimbledon Common shocked the nation. Now, 25 years on, her son Alex Hanscombe has spoken out.
The brutal sexual assault and murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992 shocked the nation. Not least because her almost three-year-old son, Alex, was witness to the crime.
It was just three weeks before Alex's third birthday - on July 15 1992 - when his mum, Rachel, was murdered.
Rachel had taken Alex and their dog, Molly for a walk on Wimbledon Common that morning, when a stranger came out the bushes and killed Rachel in a frenzied attack.
Little Alex witnessed the whole thing - in fact, he was the only witness to the attack - and raised the alarm.
And now, 25 years on, Alex - who has lived abroad for most of his life - has spoken out about witnessing his mother's murder, and his life ever since.
Alex was just nearly three when he saw his mother get killed (Credit: ITV)
Talking to Holly and Phil on This Morning about his memories of that fateful day, Alex explained: "Memories of that day have stayed with me throughout my life... I don’t remember everything, but the important things, over time, you remember the key elements."
Despite the fact he was just a toddler at the time of the attack, Alex revealed that he remembers it all quite vividly, saying: "“My mother and I sensed there was something in the air, and we both turned back and we saw this stranger lurching towards us with a black bag over his shoulder. Everything happened in a matter of seconds. I was grabbed and thrown roughly to the ground, my face dragged across the mud, and seconds later my mother collapsed next to me.
"In the seconds after the attack [I remember] reaching out to my mother asking her to get up, and then realising in a split second that she’d gone and never coming back.”
Alex has lots of early memories of life with his parents (Credit: ITV)
And despite the brutality of the attack, Alex added: "The interesting thing is, even though there was an intensity of the moment, there was a sense of peacefulness and serenity at the same time...
"We are very conditioned by images from films, but in real life things happen very differently. I think someone leaving the physical form... there’s a sense of peacefulness in that as well.”
Alex opened up about his life to Holly and Phil on This Morning (Credit: ITV)
Alex revealed that the days following the attack were, as you'd expect, unsettling.
"Everything became chaotic from that morning really," Alex explained. "When I was taken to the hospital there were hoards of reporters, and police had to lock down the building to avoid them breaking in. Over the coming months we were chased by the press who were camped outside our home... later a full colour picture [of me] was made public with the killer still on the loose, putting my life in danger.”
What's more, as the only witness, Alex was basically put under surveillance in the hope he'd reveal details to help police catch the killer.
"There were all these systems set up in the house to record anything I might say," he shared.
Alex and his father Andre left the UK shortly after his mother's murder (Credit: ITV)
Shockingly, Alex also revealed that in his grief his father, Andre Hanscombe, almost took both their lives.
"[I know] that in another part of his mind he was considering what method he was going to use to end both of our lives," Alex explained. "My mother and I seemed so tightly connected that it didn't make any sense to him that I'd want to continue on without my mother."
In the end, thankfully, that didn't happen, and Andre made the decision instead to take Alex to France, where they could have a fresh start.
Incredibly, Alex has a very zen outlook on life (Credit: ITV)
Amazingly, despite losing his mother in such horrifying circumstances, Alex has managed to find peace, and seemed incredibly philosphical, telling Holly and Phil: “As an adult I’m able to take a step back and understand that everything is about cause and effect.
"I think it’s a journey. We all have our own set of obstacles and difficult challenges, and my message is that when you embrace those fears and those difficulties that’s when you can make the transition from darkness to light. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a light that we find within ourselves..."
Alex Hanscombe's book, Letting Go: A true story of murder, loss and survival, is available from Amazon from May 18.