Mother who murdered children sentenced to 30 years

 

A woman who murdered her young son and daughter in a Spanish hotel room has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Lianne Smith, 45, had admitted smothering 11-month-old Daniel and five-year-old Rebecca with a plastic bag at the Miramar Hotel in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava in May 2010.

In a written sentence issued to the media today, Judge Adolfo Garcia Morales jailed Smith for 15 years for each of the murders.

It comes after a jury at the Provincial Court in Girona, north east Spain, decided last month that Smith was criminally responsible for the children's deaths.

At the conclusion of the trial, prosecutor Victor Pillado Quintas asked for Smith to be sentenced to 34 for years in prison.

Her defence sought an acquittal, claiming she was in a state of "psychiatric disturbance" and suffering insurmountable fear when the tragedy happened.

Judge 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.

He wrote: "The jury stressed that this mental disturbance was not as important as the defence had argued.

"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 calculations she made in order to pay what she believed she still owed to the hotel."

The judge also dismissed the defence's claim that Smith had been suffering "insurmountable fear" when she murdered her children because she feared British social services would take them away from her.

He wrote: "It would have been consequent with insurmountable fear if she had attacked or even killed the members of English social services who she felt were threatening to take her children away.

"It is illogical that out of insurmountable fear of losing her children she decided to kill them."

The killings took place shortly after Smith's partner, Martin Smith, was arrested in Barcelona by Spanish police acting on a European Arrest Warrant.

The family had been living in Spain since 2007 after fleeing Lichfield, Staffordshire, because Smith's eldest daughter by her first husband had accused Mr Smith of sexually abusing her.

After her partner was deported to the UK, Smith thought British social services had travelled to Spain to take her children away from her.

In December 2010, 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.

Last January, he was found hanged in his cell at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.

When Martin Smith was arrested, Smith at first tried to carry on with her life in Barcelona.

But after she was approached on the street by somebody asking if she was "the woman whose husband had been arrested", she fled with the children to Lloret.

On the night of May 17, she murdered Daniel and then Rebecca by smothering them with a plastic bag as they slept.

The jury heard Smith then tried to end her own life by cutting herself with razors, covering her head with a plastic bag, hanging herself with telephone cable and trying to drown in a bath.

Before attempting suicide, she left four notes and an envelope containing money for the hotel.

In one of the notes, addressed to Rebecca and Daniel, she wrote: "I love you very much. I haven't been able to give you a marvellous life together. I am so sorry."

After failing to kill herself, she went down to the Miramar Hotel's reception at 1.30pm the following day and asked for police and ambulance to be called.

When police arrived, Smith immediately confessed to killing the children.

In a video interview filmed in the room next to where the murders happened, Smith told Spanish officers: "I gave my children a three-day holiday, a perfect holiday, we were very, very happy.

"This was the end of the road, I knew my children would be taken back to England. My daughter didn't want to go, she didn't want to leave me.

"So I know it's not right to take another life, but 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."

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.

The couple lived together in a caravan in Northumberland, with Lianne's two children from her previous marriage, Sarah and Christopher.

Later they moved to Cumbria, where Lianne worked as a manager at Cumbria County Council's children's services department.

In 2007 they were living in Lichfield when they fled to Spain with Rebecca after Sarah Richardson's complaint against Mr Smith.

Daniel was born in Spain in June 2009.

During the trial, both the prosecution and police claimed that DNA tests carried out by Interpol had determined Martin Smith was not Rebecca and Daniel's father.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Louis van Gaal
football
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own