‘Perfect holiday’ mother killed her children

A mother who suffocated her young son and daughter in a Spanish hotel said she had given them a “perfect holiday” before killing them, a court has heard.

Lianne Smith, 45, has admitted smothering Rebecca Smith, five, 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 went on trial yesterday at the Provincial Court in Girona, north-east Spain, so a jury can determine whether she is criminally responsible for the children’s deaths.

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Her defence is seeking an acquittal, claiming she was in a state of “psychiatric disturbance” and suffering insurmountable fear. If found guilty, she faces 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 in Spain since 2007 after fleeing Lichfield, Staffordshire, after Lianne’s eldest daughter by her first husband accused Mr Smith of sexually abusing her.

After Mr Smith was deported to the UK, Lianne became obsessed with the idea that British social services were in Spain to take her children away from her.

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Lloret de Mar was where she and Martin Smith had gone when they first arrived from England, so she withdrew money and went there to hide with her children.

In court yesterday, Lianne refused to answer questions from the prosecution, as is her right under Spanish law. But the jury was shown a video of a statement she made to police the day after the children died.

In the video, a tearful Lianne told police: “I gave my children a three-day holiday, a perfect holiday, we were very, very happy.

“We came here (to Lloret) with nothing, we had left everything again. This was the end of the road, I knew my children would be taken back to England.

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“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.”

The jury was told after the killings, Lianne tried to take her own life by cutting herself, covering her head with a plastic bag, hanging herself with telephone cable and drowning in a bath.

Answering questions from her lawyer, Jenifer Lahoz Abos, she explained she had gone to Lloret after seeing two people outside her house when she went shopping one morning.

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“I knew and I could feel they were from social services and they had come to take the children, and I love my children, I love my children.”

In her statement to police, Lianne said she killed her children while they slept, adding she felt as if “someone else” had done it.

Before trying to take her own life, she left four notes and an envelope containing money for the hotel.

In one, 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.”

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Another note in Spanish was left on the hotel bedroom door, telling staff: “Don’t need cleaner today, my children are sick”.

And in one she accused her oldest daughter, of causing the tragedy with the “lies” she had told about Martin Smith, whom she described as an “innocent man”.

In December 2010, Lianne’s partner was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of 11 specimen charges of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault.

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

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Describing the moment after she killed her children, she told police: “I lay down on the bed beside them and gave them a cuddle and talked to them.”

Victor Pillado Quintas, prosecuting, earlier told the court the prosecution did not believe Lianne Smith was mentally ill when she used the bag to kill her children, smothering her son, then her daughter as she lay in her bed.

She lay with their bodies, before going to the hotel reception at 1.30pm the next day, asking staff to call police and an ambulance.

He asked the jury: “Would a person who is afraid of someone hurting her children kill those children?”

The case continues.

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