Mother charged with murder of disabled children

By Paul Peachey

Police officers adjust tributes left outside the house in New Malden, south London. Photo / AFP
Police officers adjust tributes left outside the house in New Malden, south London. Photo / AFP

A mother appeared in court today charged with the murder of three young disabled children.

Standing in the dock with her husband looking on from the public gallery, Tania Clarence, 42, wept as she was accused of killing her three-year-old twin sons, Ben and Max, and four year-old daughter, Olivia, at their London home.

Visibly devastated, her husband, Gary Clarence, 43, also broke down in tears as he locked eyes with his wife.

Mrs Clarence, accused of three counts of murdering a child aged over one year old, spoke only to confirm her name, age and address. No formal plea was entered and Mrs Clarence was remanded in custody.

Police discovered the children's bodies after being called to the family's five-bedroom home in Thetford Road in the wealthy south west London suburb of New Malden at 9.30pm on Tuesday night. Mrs Clarence was arrested shortly afterwards.
Read: Disabled children found dead, mother questioned for murder

All three young children were said to have suffered from spinal muscular atrophy. Also known as floppy baby syndrome, the genetic condition leaves children with little control of their movements and can drastically shorten life expectancy.

Mr Clarence, who works at the City bank Investec, is said to have been away in the family's native South Africa with their eldest daughter, who does not have any health problems, at the time of the deaths.

Chairwoman of the bench Fiona Abbott said: "For these three charges you will be sent to the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing on 9 May.

"There will be a bail application at the Central Criminal Court at 10am on 29 April."

Mrs Clarence is originally from South Africa and moved to Britain with her husband some years ago.

Additional reporting from PA

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 23 Aug 2014 18:05:36 Processing Time: 423ms