SA mom to seek bail in UK court

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SA UK child murders

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Gary Clarence with his 3-year-old twins Ben and Max.

 

London - A South African woman accused of killing her three disabled children is to apply for bail at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

Tania Clarence, 42, will appear in court exactly a week after she was arrested by police following the discovery that three of her four children had been murdered in the family’s south London home. She is in custody.

Post-mortems carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital over the weekend failed to establish what caused the deaths of 4-year-old Olivia and twins Ben and Max, 3. The Metropolitan Police said further tests would be carried out.

Clarence appeared in Wimbledon Magistrate’s Court in a two-minute hearing on Friday in which she was remanded.

She sobbed in the dock when she saw her husband, Gary, sitting in the public gallery surrounded by friends and relatives.

The children who died had the genetic disorder spinal muscular atrophy, also known as “floppy baby syndrome”.

The disease leaves the body with little physical strength and drastically reduces life expectancy.

Tania Clarence, a graphic designer, had given up her job to care for the children, with the help of a maid and nanny.

The Clarences settled last year in New Malden, where they modified their R21 million townhouse with ramps and a lift to make access easier.

Tania Clarence is to ask the court to free her on bail on Tuesday. She stands a good chance of success, despite the murder charges.

Most people accused of murder are kept in custody, but the special circumstances in the case might allow Tania Clarence to go free.

Under British law, it is up to the prosecution to prove there is an “unacceptable risk” that if an accused person is granted bail she will fail to appear in court, commit an offence, endanger someone’s safety or welfare, or obstruct the course of justice.

Police remained at the family home over the weekend, where they were said to be continuing their search for evidence with a “fine-tooth comb”.

Officers dressed in white protective suits were seen removing bags from the house and loading them into police vans.

Gary Clarence, who works at Investec Bank in London and specialises in health care acquisitions and disposals, was in South Africa with the couple’s eldest child, Taya, 8, when told of the deaths. Taya does not have spinal muscular atrophy.

Clarence declined to speak to the media as he left the court on Friday before being driven off in a taxi. In court he was red-eyed and fought back tears as he saw his wife enter the glass-plated dock.

A spokesman for the family, Lloyd Marshall, has said that Gary Clarence is in “absolute shock” at the tragedy. He confirmed the children who died had the genetic disorder.

He said that after Olivia had been diagnosed with the condition, the odds were “50-50” that the twins would also be found to have it.

Marshall said: “Unfortunately, they did as well.

“Gary is in absolutely a state of shock – the whole family is. He never would have left the UK if he’d known his wife would be left really battling.”

Independent Foreign Service


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