CHILD murderer Lianne Smith spent Christmas Day behind bars – and she faces the same experience for at least the next three decades.
The North Tyneside mother is currently serving a 30-year stretch in a Spanish jail, after admitting smothering her own two children,
Smith, 45, originally from Wallsend, smothered 11-month-old Daniel and five-year-old Rebecca, with a plastic bag at a Spanish Hotel in 2010.
And one woman who knows exactly how tough it is to be jailed abroad at this time of year is Anne-Marie Oates, who spent two Christmases in Costa Del Sol prisons.
Ms Oates, 57, found herself in jail after her former husband Richard Monteith, a former Whitley Bay miner, killed wealthy widow Diana Dyson, 63, at her Torremolinos apartment.
The pair were arrested in 2002 after Spanish police found 179 pieces of jewellery belonging to the victim at the Monteiths’ home in nearby Benalmadena. And, while her former husband was jailed for 16 years over the killing, Ms Oates was sentenced to 15 months behind bars for handling the jewellery her husband stole.
That meant she spent Christmas 2003 in Malaga’s Alhaurin Prison, and the following year in jail in Madrid – and she describes it as one of the most heart-breaking experiences of her life.
“It broke my heart being there at Christmas,” she said.
“The Spanish have their main meal on Christmas Eve and it was the most amazing meal I ever had in prison, it was fabulous. And we even got two bags of sweets each.
“But it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, Christmas was the hardest, hardest time.
“It was tough all the time but I really struggled by the time it came to Christmas because I was so isolated and far away from my family. Lianne Smith will feel it more because she killed her children and she’ll have to live with that, too. That will take its toll. She’ll have to toughen up.
“After the meal we had when I was in Malaga we were put back in our rooms.
“The girl I shared with for four months – Sally, a girl from Bolivia – sat with me and talked about all the things we were missing. We cried our hearts out and just cradled each other.”
Lianne Smith had been on the run with her partner, Martin Smith, who had fled the UK after being accused of sexually abusing a young girl, but was eventually caught and jailed.
After being jailed for 16 years, he was found hanged in his cell at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.
Lianne Smith had checked into the Miramar Hotel in Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava, with her two children and, fearing that British social services planned to take her children from her, she suffocated them with a plastic bag.
Ms Oates said Smith won’t get any incoming calls, will only be allowed parcels checked through the system and that her visits will be kept to a minimum.
She said: “She will have to toughen up in prison.
“And if she doesn’t already speak the language she will have to learn how to speak and write it otherwise she’ll struggle.”