Woman killed children 'out of love'

Western Telegraph: Lianne Smith killed her young son and daughter in a Spanish hotel room (Staffordshire Police/PA) Lianne Smith killed her young son and daughter in a Spanish hotel room (Staffordshire Police/PA)

A woman killed her young son and daughter in a Spanish hotel "out of love" for them, a court has heard.

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

She is on trial at the Provincial Court in Girona, north-east Spain, so a jury can determine whether she is criminally responsible for the children's deaths.

Her defence is seeking an acquittal, claiming she was in a state of "psychiatric disturbance" and suffering insurmountable fear when the tragedy happened. If found guilty, she faces a total of 38 years in prison.

The killings took place shortly after her 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 were in Spain to take her children away from her.

Forensic psychiatrist Itziar Idiaquez Alberdi, who has interviewed Smith four times, told the court: "She believed the children would be taken away from her and institutionalised. For her this was worse than death. She had spoken about this with her partner and they had talked about taking their own lives if they were ever separated. She was living in permanent fear of what might happen. She was convinced that it was the best thing she could do. She killed them out of love. She loved the children."

During the trial, the jury heard that, after killing the children, Smith tried to take her own life by cutting herself with razors, covering her head with a plastic bag, hanging herself with telephone cable and drowning in a bath.

Forensic scientist Elisabet Vazquez Martinez was asked by the jury whether the injuries Smith inflicted upon herself indicated a serious intention to take her own life. Ms Vazquez Martinez said: "A person who wants to kill themselves does not do something like this. They go up to a fifth floor and jump off."

A member of the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan regional police force, said she had asked Interpol to carry out tests to determine whether Martin Smith was Rebecca and Daniel's biological father. The agent, who was identified by her ID card number to the court, said these tests had concluded he was not.

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