Dead children's mother warned about coping

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The Independent Online

A woman arrested after the deaths of her two children said she did not know how she would cope when her partner was detained over paedophile allegations, it was reported today.

Lianne Smith, 43, is expected to undergo psychiatric tests after the bodies of her daughter Rebecca, five, and son Daniel, aged 11 months, were found in a Costa Brava hotel room.

The children's father, Martin Smith, was an on-the-run alleged paedophile who appeared in court yesterday.

Smith, 45, originally from North Shields, had been one of Britain's most wanted men until his arrest by Spanish police earlier this month.

After he was taken into custody, Ms Smith said "Martin's gone now and I've been left looking after both of the children. I really don't know how I'll cope", the Daily Mail reported.

According to the newspaper, she added: "I'm not sure what my plans are now. I'm trying to get my head together and work out what to do."

She will appear in court in Blanes near Lloret de Mar tomorrow morning.

Under the Spanish legal system, a suspect appears before a judge who decides whether there is sufficient evidence to bring a case against them.

The bodies of Ms Smith's children were found in Room 101 in the Hotel Miramar in the resort of Lloret de Mar on Tuesday.

A local police spokesman said there was no blood at the scene nor any signs of violence.

Sources close to the investigation told El Mundo newspaper that police believed the youngsters were suffocated because their bodies showed no external signs of injury.

Some reports said a plastic bag was used to suffocate the children.

It was reported that Mrs Smith, who is believed to have run a nursery in Barcelona, was worried the Spanish authorities would take her children away.

Mr Smith appeared before magistrates in Carlisle yesterday accused of child sex offences.

His wife and Rebecca had been reported missing from the Staffordshire area since December 2007.

Smith, who was extradited on Tuesday from Spain, faces 13 charges of child sex offences, said to have been committed in the Cumbria area between 1995 and 2005.

He was remanded in custody to reappear at Carlisle Crown Court on June 7.

A Cumbria Police spokeswoman said: "During the court hearing it was disclosed that Spanish police have informed Cumbria Constabulary that Martin Smith's wife, 43-year-old Lianne Smith, has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of his two children Rebecca, five, and Daniel, 11 months, in Spain.

"Lianne and Rebecca had been missing from the Staffordshire area since December 2007."

Martin Smith had been put on a list of most wanted suspects thought to be hiding out in Spain by crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers.

He allegedly jumped bail in 2008 while facing charges of rape of a child under 16, gross indecency with a girl under the age of 16, indecent assault of a girl under 16 and attempted rape of a girl under 16.

Post-mortem examinations being carried out in Spain are expected to reveal not only the cause of death for his two children but also whether either of them was abused, El Mundo reported.

The judge overseeing the investigation has ruled that it should be conducted in secret and police said the results of the post-mortems would not be made public.

The Smiths were said by former neighbours to have lived at a house in Lichfield, Staffordshire, for no more than six months in the latter part of 2007.

Neighbours recalled that the smartly-dressed couple were reluctant to talk to those living nearby.

An elderly woman, who declined to give her name, said: "They lived there for about six months at the most - it was not long at all and they just kept themselves to themselves.

"You didn't hardly see them at all. We didn't even know they had gone when they left."

Lianne Smith was employed as a manager in Cumbria County Council's children's services department but did not work directly with children, the council said.

She was responsible for devising out-of-school activities throughout the county for the benefit of pupils, parents and the community.

Her daughter Rebecca was referred by police to the council's social care team following their inquiries into allegations faced by Martin Smith.

Child protection procedures were put in place before the matter was passed to social services in Staffordshire, where Mrs Smith and her daughter moved in October 2007.

In a statement, the council said: "Lianne Smith worked for Cumbria County Council's children's services directorate from September 2005 to August 2007.

"She worked as an extended schools remodelling adviser, which entailed working with headteachers and school staff in developing additional services. She did not work directly with children.

"Rebecca Martine Smith was referred by Cumbria Constabulary to our children's social care team in August 2007 following their investigations into Martin Smith.

"Cumbria County Council carried out initial assessments and strategy discussions took place with our safeguarding partners in line with child protection procedures.

"Rebecca and her family moved to Staffordshire in October 2007. At that stage all relevant safeguarding information was passed to social services in Staffordshire, and Cumbria County Council closed its case in November 2007."

Mrs Smith's work background in education is unclear but, according to the past government's guidelines, her role in Cumbria entailed being the strategic lead for developing an "extended schools vision" within the authority.

That "vision" included offering a range of activities including study support and sport and music clubs, combined with childcare in primary schools.

Parenting and family support is provided, as well as swift access to targeted and specialist services, and community access to facilities including adult and family learning.