“I heard Charna screaming and saw Matthew stabbing her” says courageous neighbour struggling to come to terms with murder of good friend
PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:06 18 May 2017
A St Ives couple have spoken to The Hunts Post about the tragic events surrounding the murder of their neighbour and friend Andrew Hasler and paid tribute to the man they describe as “kind and gentle”.
Andrew Phelps and his partner, Tina Scrivener, agreed to talk about the horrific attack on January 8 to ensure Mr Hasler, who died after he was stabbed to death in the living room of his Houghton Road home, is remembered as “more than a murder victim”.
“He was a great friend to us and more like an uncle to our children who adored him,” said Mr Phelps, who has since been recommended for a bravery award for his actions that day.
“He was soft and gentle and would do anything to help anyone and we just want people to know that, to know what a decent and kind person he was, otherwise some people will only remember him as someone who was murdered.”
In April, Matthew Sharpe, aged 40, received a 25-year sentence for killing Mr Hasler, aged 28, and 20 years for the attempted murder of his former partner, Charna Knights, aged 28. It was revealed in court that Sharpe and Miss Knights had been in a relationship until the start of this year, but had parted, and Miss Knights went to stay with Mr Hasler, who was a friend, but the pair later developed feelings for each other and Sharpe became jealous.
Andrew Hasler lived in the house next door to Mr Phelps and Miss Scrivener, and the three of them celebrated the new year with Sharpe and Miss Knights.
On the morning of the attack, Mr Phelps and Miss Scrivener, were at home taking care of their eight children, who are aged from 11 months to 10 years. Mr Phelps was in the kitchen making lunch and Mr Hasler, who had been at the house that morning to have coffee, had left at 12.30pm to get ready for work. Minutes later, Miss Scrivener received a text message from Mr Hasler which read “Matthew is here”.
Initially she was not too concerned as, although Sharpe was not happy about the new relationship, he had agreed to give Charna some space and stay away. Tina and Miss Knights were good friends and she knew Sharpe could be controlling, but she had never seen him angry. She says she then heard banging coming from next door and Andrew decided to investigate.
The next few minutes are indelibly imprinted on his memory and he constantly relives the few moments it took him to reach the house and says he can’t help but wonder if he had done something differently or been a bit quicker, he could have saved his friend.
“When I reached the back door, I heard Charna screaming and as I walked into the room, Matthew was on top of her stabbing her. I didn’t see ‘Hasler’ at first and my first thought was to get Matthew off her and get the knife away from him.”
Andrew says he realised Sharpe had another knife in his pocket, which he managed to take from him and he held him in a restraining bear hug to prevent him hurting anyone else or himself. Sharpe broke free and locked himself in the downstairs toilet and Andrew ran to ask Tina to call the emergency services and ask a neighbour, who had first aid experience, for help as he now realised Mr Hasler was lying on the floor and was badly hurt.
“It all happened very quickly - maybe just a few minutes - and some of it is still a blank, but whatever anyone says I can’t help but think that if I had got there a bit sooner or done something differently I could have saved Hasler. I still think I didn’t do enough and got there too late to help him.”
Mr Hasler suffered a single fatal stab wound to his heart and in her account given to the court, Miss Knights described how Mr Hasler had tried to intervene as Sharpe repeatedly stabbed her in the legs and chest and attempted to strangle her and cut her throat.
The emergency services tried in vain to save Mr Hasler who was pronounced dead at the scene and Miss Knights was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, for emergency surgery. Sharpe was later arrested after jumping into a nearby river and threatening to kill himself.
In court Mr Phelps’ actions were described as “outstanding and courageous” and despite his inner turmoil and personal struggle to come to terms with the events of that day, he undoubtedly, according to the judge in the case, saved Miss Knights’s life. He has been awarded £1,000 by the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, but the events of January 8 still weigh heavily.
“I only did what most people would have done. We are all human beings and I would like to think most people would have just reacted in the way I did and helped someone in trouble. But not a day goes by when I don’t think ‘if only I had got there a few minutes earlier’.
Tina also wants people to remember Mr Hasler’s actions that day, which probably delayed Sharpe long enough to give Miss Kinghts a few more precious minutes.
“People have said Andrew is a hero, and he is, but Hasler was a hero too. He died trying to save someone else’s life and that is so typical of him and the person he was. He always put other people first. The media have described him as our neighbour, but he was just so much more than that to us, he was our friend.”