London - Tania Clarence, who is accused of murdering her three children in London, left three notes to her husband, two of which gave her husband, Gary, instructions on what to do when he arrived at their house.
The first note, details of which were revealed at London’s Old Bailey on Tuesday, and which was found on the bannister of their south London home, read in Afrikaans: “Gary, don’t let Taya go into the kids’ bedroom or our bedroom.”
A second note, found in the couple’s bedroom, pleaded with her husband, saying: “Gary, I don’t want to be saved please. I cannot live with the horror of what I have done. I thought the pills would work but they didn’t.”
A third note was addressed to the nanny but was not read out in court on Tuesday.
Clarence, 42, is charged with killing the girl and two boys by smothering them at the family home while her banker husband Gary was on holiday with their eldest child, Taya, 8, in South Africa.
On Tuesday, she was refused bail, but was instead released from custody and moved to a psychiatric unit under Britain’s Mental Health Act.
She appeared in custody by video link, dressed in a black training top and jeans, sitting on a chair in a prison room. She continually dabbed her eyes with a tissue and look pale and tired as she listened to proceedings in Court 3 at London’s Old Bailey.
During the bail hearing, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Zoe Johnson said the dead children – Olivia, 4, and twins Ben and Max, 3 – had all suffered from spinal muscular dystrophy, type two, which caused a range of physical disabilities and shortened life expectancy.
Johnson said their nanny and a neighbour had called at the house on the night the bodies were discovered.
She said: “The nanny had keys to the premises and she opened the door to see the house in darkness. There was a note on the bannister at the bottom of the stairs addressed to Mr Clarence, written in Afrikaans. The note has been translated and it said: ‘Gary, don’t let Taya go into the kids’ bedroom or our bedroom’.”
But they (the nanny and the neighbour) went upstairs.
“They got to the first floor and saw Mrs Clarence in the bedroom and she was telling them to go away and saying it was too late – and was clearly depressed and disturbed. They asked if she had taken anything and she said: ‘I took something on Tuesday but it did not work’.”
Johnson said the nanny and neighbour – who cannot be named for legal reasons – used the light on their cellphones to see Clarence. She said: “Mrs Clarence had tried to commit suicide by using a blade on her wrist.”
The neighbour checked one of the bedrooms where he found the dead twin boys. Officers found Olivia and all three were pronounced dead.
After the police arrived at the R21 million house in New Malden, Clarence burst into tears as she told a police officer: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” When asked why, she replied: “I killed them. I suffocated them.”
Clarence was taken to hospital where doctors treated a self-inflicted cut to her left wrist that measured 3cm.
After that she was taken to a police station for interview when she allegedly said: “Why do I have to do this? I am guilty.”
Judge Brian Barker, Recorder of London, cited “exceptional circumstances”, saying: “There is a real risk that her state will deteriorate considerably if she remains in prison. She is not a risk to anybody else apart from herself.
“This case is a case of enormous concern. It has many unusual features. There is a combination of circumstances here that makes this an exceptional case and allows this court to take an exceptional course.”
Clarence’s defence lawyer Jim Sturman welcomed the move.