NEIGHBOURS of suspected child killer Lianne Smith have told of their shock after her paedophile partner committed suicide in jail.
Martin Smith was discovered hanging by wardens at Strangeways in Manchester on Monday night and was pronounced dead half an hour later.
Originally from North Shields, the hypnotist was jailed for 16 years in March last year after abusing a schoolgirl for almost a decade, skipping bail and fleeing to Spain.
But only days after the 46-year-old’s extradition back to the UK, his long-term girlfriend Lianne, 44, used a plastic bag to suffocate her two youngest children Rebecca, five, and Daniel, 11 months, in a hotel room at the holiday Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar.
The mother-of-four is currently awaiting trial but court papers indicate she intends to plead she was not culpable of murder because of mental illness.
Lianne, who was formerly known as Angela, shared a house with her former husband John Hope and their two children just doors away from her parents’ home, on Gibson Street, in Wallsend.
The single street of terraced houses, just off the Coast Road, and surrounded by playing fields is home to a close-knit community of neighbours whose children all play together in the friendly cul-de-sac.
But neighbours said Lianne and her boyfriend were a reclusive couple who didn’t mix with neighbours.
The news of Smith’s death has split the community, with some saying he is now in the “best place” and others revealing how their hearts are with Lianne’s parents who still live in the street.
One neighbour said: “Lianne and her boyfriend didn’t have anything to do with anyone.
“When Lianne lived there she was married and then he moved out and another man moved in.
“I presume it’s this man’s guilty conscience that led to his hanging.”
Another neighbour, who wanted to stay anonymous, said: “It’s Lianne’s parents I feel sorry for. They are a lovely couple and they have been put through so much.”
Former Butlins entertainer Martin Smith, who also appeared on Living TV’s Most Haunted, was found guilty of 11 counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault following a trial in Manchester in December 2010.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisoner Martin Smith, 46, was found hanging by staff at HMP Manchester at approximately 6.30pm on Monday 23 January, 2012.
“Staff intervened but he was pronounced dead at the prison at approximately 7pm.”
Smith met Lianne in the early 1990s and within a year he had moved into her Wallsend home, which she shared with her two young children.
Prosecutors want Lianne jailed for a total of 38 years on two counts of premeditated murder.
But court reports in November last year show that defence lawyers are seeking an acquittal, claiming she was not criminally responsible for her actions due to mental illness and high levels of stress.
If successful Lianne could avoid jail and instead be placed in a secure psychiatric unit.