A CYCLIST who was almost strangled in a baffling late-night attack in York has taken his own life, his partner said today.

Adam Petch spoke out about the assault last month on Justin Berry, and its tragic aftermath, while appealing for witnesses to come forward to help police catch those responsible.

Justin, 31, worked as a duty manager at York's City Screen cinema.

He was struck on the face and knocked off his bike while cycling home from work across waste ground between the National Railway Museum and York Station at 1.20am on Thursday, April 24. When he came round, he found a plastic cable tied tightly round his neck, but managed to call an ambulance on his mobile phone. Adam, 34, of Upper St Paul's Terrace, off Holgate Road, York, said a doctor at York Hospital had told Justin he could have been killed.

"He had grazes around his neck where the cable had cut into the skin and blood vessels were burst all over his head, so it looked as if he had been in a sunbed too long. It was such an horrific attack. It seems so bizarre and strange."

Adam said Justin had suffered from depression in the past but his condition had improved in recent months until the assault, which had left him traumatised and unsettled.

"He was anxious and depressed, and shaking and weeping, and wasn't sleeping. Tragically, he felt there was no way out and chose to take his own life on May 6," he said.

Justin's body was found in Adam's fume-filled car, which had been parked near Kirkham Abbey, just off the A64, between York and Malton.

Adam said investigations were still going on into the cause of death, and a date for the funeral at York Crematorium had not yet been fixed.

He appealed for anyone who witnessed the assault, or had any other information, to contact police.

"It might be that someone came home in the early hours covered in blood. There was a lot of blood on Justin's mobile."

He said Justin had been a soundtrack composer, whose work had been used on some TV documentaries, and had worked as a projectionist for City Screen before becoming a duty manager there.

"He had been locking up there that night; that was why he was coming home so late."

A Coroner's officer was unable to comment today on Mr Berry's death, other than to confirm that further investigations were needed before an inquest could be opened.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Costello, who is leading the investigation into the original assault, supported Mr Petch's appeal for witnesses to come forward, saying that none had emerged so far.

"We are still investigating the assault," he said. "It's still very bizarre. We would welcome anyone who could come forward with information that could assist in our inquiries."

lAnyone with information should phone police on 01904 631321.

Updated: 11:45 Monday, May 19, 2003