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Sobbing mom enters plea in a whisper

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Gary Clarence with twin sons Ben and Alex, 3. Clarence's wife, Tania, is suspected to have murdered the twins and their daughter Olivia, 4. Picture: Facebook

London -

A mother sobbed in the dock on Monday after she admitted killing her three disabled children at the £2-million family home.

But Tania Clarence, 42, denied murder, instead accepting the lesser charge of manslaughter by diminished responsibility over the deaths of four-year-old Olivia and three-year-old twins Ben and Max.

Her husband Gary refused to look at her as she entered her Old Bailey plea in hardly more than a whisper. The 43-year-old investment banker was in South Africa with their eldest child at the time of the tragedy.

Overcome with emotion, his wife was barely audible as she uttered the words: “Not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter.”

The three children were found dead at their five-bedroom home by the family’s nanny on April 22. They were in their pyjamas in bed and are believed to have been smothered. All three suffered from spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition sometimes described as “floppy baby syndrome”.

It leaves children with little control of their movements and can drastically shorten life expectancy.

Mrs Clarence is thought to have found that Olivia had the degenerative condition when she became pregnant with the twins.

The couple moved to New Malden in south London last year and spent around £1 million adapting their home to cater for their disabled children, fitting a lift and ramps.

Mrs Clarence gave up her job as a graphic designer to care for the trio. Friends said the children, who suffered severe breathing problems, had to be fed through tubes and were given medicine hourly.

Following the discovery of their bodies, Mrs Clarence was taken to hospital in Tooting for treatment to cuts before being charged by police on April 24.

Her husband, who works for Investec, was in his native South Africa to visit relatives with eldest child Taya Grace, 8, who is not affected by the illness.

On Monday, the prosecution asked for more time for an expert psychiatrist to consider the case and the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, granted an adjournment until October 3.

The defendant was remanded to a secure hospital for assessment.

Prosecutors are expected to indicate at the next hearing in October whether they will accept the manslaughter plea entered by Mrs Clarence or whether she should face trial for murder.

She waved at relatives and friends in the public gallery during the 15-minute hearing before being led away by the guards.

A provisional trial date has been set for next February. - Daily Mail


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