Friday, 19 December 2008

A Father's anguish

These impact statements are common in modern day criminal trials but very few see he light of day outside the actual court room. Publication of the one prepared by the father of Rachel Nickell lifts the corner of the obscuring sheet.

It reflects something I picked up on in the lead-in to his repeating some of this on national TV. He said that he and his wife had moved on. Many - indeed, most - families say that they cannot achieve closure until the person responsible for their loss is detected and brought to justice. Nickell pere shows it can be done; even in the face of the sort of aggravation he outlines in his statement. Which follows :

Andrew Nickell's impact statement

Last Modified: 18 Dec 2008
By: Channel 4 News

A statement released by Andrew Nickell, father of Rachel, on the impact his daughter's murder has had on the Nickell family.

We have been asked to provide an impact statement to try and describe how Rachel's murder has affected us. This is a bit like trying to describe how you felt after being run over by a very large truck. In both cases you come out of a coma months/years later, having lived through a period when you were not really conscious of what was going on but you keep on automatically breathing and eating. When you come to, you gradually realise what you have lost.

The greatest loss is your future. All the things that any family hopes for and expects are completely smashed. There will be no daughter to talk to in our old age, no grandchildren to love and admire. At a stroke all this has been removed.

The next loss is your anonymity. Your life is trampled on by the media. You are "gawked at" in supermarkets. You are avoided by so-called friends who think some bad luck will rub off on them. Your son is devastated as he is very close to his sister. He avoids any close relationship because he fears losing someone else. Your mother, in her eighties, cries every day and wished she had been taken instead.

The greatest loss is your future. All the things that any family hopes for and expects are completely smashed.

Your daughter's partner retreats into pain and blame without the guidance and love of your daughter. After a few years he moves abroad and later you are stopped from seeing your only grandson. You become ever more wary of strangers. You reveal nothing because they might be media or have contacts with the media. Copies of your phone bills are obtained and friends abroad ring up to try to discover where your grandson lives.

You fight the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for recompense for Alex for losing his mother in horrible circumstances and the loss of her love and parenting skills for the 15 years until he is 18. After seven years he is rewarded a derisory amount. The home secretary tells you that there is no appeal against this award.

You deal year after year with the machinery of the Crown and the ever-changing teams of police and specialists. Some of them care deeply, but they come and go. To say one man has destroyed our lives is too strong. But that one man has changed it forever. You learn to accommodate these changes, but the pain remains with you every minute of every day. Every day Rachel's name is mentioned, her photograph published or her home videos shown, everything comes flooding back.

We hope the man who committed the crime will spend the rest of his life in prison. That is the sentence he has given us.

Signed: A. Nickell

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