A TYNESIDE 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 heard yesterday.
Lianne Smith, 45, has admitted suffocating daughter Rebecca Smith, five, and 11-month-old son Daniel with a plastic bag and then sleeping with their bodies at the Miramar Hotel in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava in May 2010.
Smith feared her children were going to be taken into care after her partner, Martin Smith, was arrested in Barcelona for charges of sexual abuse.
Martin Smith, from North Shields, North Tyneside, was later jailed for 16 years but hung himself in Strangeways prison in January.
Lianne Smith, who is originally from Wallsend, 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.
The court heard she killed her son and daughter after making a "clean break with reality" and believing she was being followed by authorities wanting to take her children into care. 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 family had been living in Spain since 2007 after fleeing from Lichfield in Staffordshire when Mr Smith was accused of sexually abusing a young girl.
After Mr Smith was deported to the United Kingdom, his partner became obsessed with the idea that British social services were in Spain to take her children away from her.
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.
Giving evidence yesterday, Smith refused to answer questions from the prosecution, as is her right under Spanish law.
But the jury were shown a video of a statement she made to police the day after the children died, filmed in a room next to where the killings took place.
In the video, a tearful Smith 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. 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 court heard that after killing the children, Lianne 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.
Answering questions from her lawyer, Jenifer Lahoz Abos, Smith explained that she had gone to Lloret after seeing two people outside her house when she went shopping early one morning.
She said: "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, Smith said she had killed the children while they slept and claimed they had not offered resistance.
She said she felt as if "someone else" had done the killing.
Before trying to take her own life, she left four notes and an envelope containing money for the hotel. In one note 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."
Another note in Spanish was left on the bedroom door, telling staff: "Don’t need cleaner today, my children are sick".
Smith said her family led an ordinary life in Barcelona before her partner was arrested.
She was the family’s breadwinner, working as an English teacher while she also took care of the home.
In her statement to police she said: "Martin was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant, the only thing he has done is not answer bail. From that point I investigated what had been said about our family. I discovered my husband was on TV Crimestoppers’ Most Wanted."
Describing the moment after she killed her children, she said: "I lay down on the bed beside them and gave them a cuddle and talked to them." Jenifer Lahoz Abos, for the defence, told the jury that Smith had a "total emotional dependence" on her partner and was left in a state of psychosis after he was arrested on May 7, 2010.
Ms Lahoz Abos said: "She felt observed and threatened and made a clean break with reality and thought she was being chased by the two people, who she thought could be members of the British social services.
"She thought they were going to come and take her children away and give them to other families in adoption, so she started to run when someone, who may have been a journalist, asked her if she was the woman with two children whose husband had been arrested. At this moment she entered a state of panic and lost contact with reality, interpreting events in a totally distorted manner, with delirious beliefs that she was in danger and there was a serious threat to her life and that of her children."
"After spending two days at the Miramar Hotel, and not seeing any way out for them, she decided to end their lives."
Ms Lahoz Abos said that under the Spanish Criminal Code her client is not criminally responsible for the killings because she was in a psychotic state which did not allow her to understand the illicit nature of what she was doing.
The trial continues.
AGENCY BROUGHT SMITHS TOGETHER
LIANNE and Martin Smith, who were not married but shared the same surname, first met in October 1992 through a dating agency.
Smith was going through a divorce from her first husband at the time. She was then living in Wallsend, North Tyneside.
Martin Smith, originally from North Shields, had been a singer in a band in clubs in the North East before working as a TV psychic.
He also worked at the Butlins holiday parks.
The couple lived together in Brampton, Cumbria, where Lianne worked as a manager at Cumbria County Council’s children’s services department.
In 2007 they moved to Lichfield, Staffordshire, but only stayed there for a few months before fleeing to Spain with Rebecca.
Daniel was born in Spain in June 2009.
During Martin Smith’s trial, the jury heard that he had used hypnosis, bullying and violence to groom and sexually abuse his victim between May 1995 and May 2004.
In December 2010, Martin Smith was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of 11 specimen charges of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault.
Sentencing him, Mr Justice Stephen Irwin said Smith “trapped and overwhelmed” his victim with repeated sexual assaults.
The judge also branded Smith “a high risk of serious harm” to any girls who might find themselves under his influence in the future.
He received a sentence of 16 years but in January, he was found hanged in his cell at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.
It is understood that Smith was discovered when cells were opened for prisoners to take part in their period of “evening association”.
He had earlier taken his dinner to his cell, where he was locked in while staff had their own meals.