Mother held on suspicion of murdering her children

A 43-year-old woman has been arrested in East Sussex after the bodies of two small children were found in a parked car.

Detectives were alerted when a woman with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds walked into Heathfield police station in East Sussex.

Officers quickly found the car and smashed their way in, but they were too late to save the children, believed to be a three-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother.

Few details were released by the police yesterday but it is suspected the children were already dead and had been hidden in sports bags before being driven to Heathfield. The mother, named locally as Fiona Donnison, had separated from her husband, Paul, shortly before Christmas, and left the family home in Heathfield to move into a property in Lightwater, Surrey.

Chief Superintendent Robin Smith said last night: "At about 11am a lady came into Heathfield police station clearly suffering from some distress.

"As a result of what she said to us members of my team were sent to a car. Inside that car, tragically and sadly, they found the bodies of two young children, both of whom we believe were under the age of five. The death of one child is terribly saddening for all involved, particularly the family. The death of two children is a deep tragedy, not only for the family. It also has a huge impact on the local community." He said the family of the children had been informed of their deaths but refused to confirm either the identity of the woman or her relationship with the children. The cause and time of death have yet to be established.

The car was found in Mill Close where one resident, Ian Paseka, said: "It's terrible. This is an upper-middle class residential area with no crime whatsoever. We've never even had a burglary."

A six-bedroom house close to where the car was parked was cordoned off and a resident, Jill Radford, said: "I think there used to be a couple living there until they separated. The house went up for sale sometime before Christmas. I think there were some young children living there. I could see there were often toys in the front garden."

The woman arrested on suspicion of murder was last night being treated at Eastbourne general hospital for apparently self-inflicted injuries on at least one arm. She was said to be in no fit state to be interviewed.