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

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