Mother who murdered her two children in Spanish hotel sentenced to 30 years
Lianne Smith admitted killing her son and daughter because she feared they would be taken away from her
Wednesday 04 July 2012
A woman who admitted smothering her 11-month-old son and five-year-old daughter in a Spanish hotel room has been jailed for 30 years.
Lianne Smith claimed she murdered her son, Daniel, and daughter, Rebecca, with a plastic bag in her room at the Miramar Hotel in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava, in 2010, because she feared they would be taken away after her partner, Martin Smith, was arrested on sex offence charges.
The family had been living in Spain since 2007 after fleeing Lichfield, Staffordshire, when Smith's eldest daughter by her first husband accused Martin Smith of sexually abusing her.
Martin Smith, originally from North Shields, had been a singer working in North-east clubs before working as a TV psychic. Lianne Smith was living in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, and going through a divorce from her first husband when she met him through a dating agency in October 1992.
Previously the couple lived together in a caravan in Northumberland, with Lianne's two children from her previous marriage. Later they moved to Cumbria, where Lianne worked as a manager at Cumbria County Council's children's services department.
The murders took place shortly after Martin Smith had been arrested in Barcelona by Spanish police acting on a European warrant.
Lianne Smith, 45, thought British social services had travelled to Spain to take her children away from her.
During the trial jurors heard how Smith had made several failed suicide attempts after the killings. These included cutting herself with razors, covering her head with a plastic bag, attempting to hang herself and trying to drown herself in the bath.
She left four notes and an envelope containing money for the hotel bills before the suicide attempts.
"I love you very much. I haven't been able to give you a marvellous life together. I am so sorry," read one of the notes, addressed to her two children.
The next day she walked into the hotel reception and asked police for an ambulance to be called.
She led an officer into her room and pointed to a bed where the dead children lay covered by sheets, and confessed to the murders.
Last month, jurors at a provincial court in north-east Spain decided that Smith was criminally responsible for her children's deaths, despite her defence lawyers' pleas that she had been in a state of "psychiatric disturbance" at the time. "This was the end of the road. I knew my children would be taken back to England," Smith told Spanish officers in a video interview that was showed to jurors.
She added: "I felt I was in a corner and my intention was for me and my children to go. It was not just the children, it was me as well."
In December 2010, her partner Martin Smith was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of using hypnotism, bullying and violence to groom and sexually abuse Smith's eldest daughter, Sarah Richardson, who has waived her right to anonymity.
He was found hanged in his cell at Strangeways Prison in Manchester in January.
Despite prosecutors seeking a jail term of 34 years, Smith was sentenced to serve 30 years behind bars yesterday – a 15-year sentence for each of the murders. Judge Adolfo Garcia Morales said he was imposing the minimum sentence for murder because he considered that, although responsible for her actions, Smith was suffering a degree of "mental disturbance" when she committed the crimes.
"The jury stressed that this mental disturbance was not as important as the defence had argued," he said in a written sentence.
It read: "This was based on facts such as several suicide attempts made by Smith, a statement she gave during which she appeared normal and did not make any significant mistakes as she described what had happened and how it happened, the composition of several coherent notes, and the calculations that she made in order to pay what she believed she still owed to the hotel."
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
Belle Knox: How a porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared South African athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Sir Patrick Stewart patches into David Cameron and Barack Obama's Ukraine talks with packet of wet wipes
- 4 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 5 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition