UK & World News

  • 25 April 2014, 23:51

Parents Weep In Court Over Dead Children

A mother arrested over the deaths of her three disabled children has appeared before magistrates accused of their murders.

Tania Clarence wept in the dock as she was remanded in custody at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Friday.

She spoke only to confirm her name, age and address and no formal plea was entered.

The 42-year-old is accused of three counts of murder between April 20 and April 23 this year.

A bail hearing will be held on April 29 before she appears at the Old Bailey on May 9.

Her husband, Gary Clarence, 43, also broke down in tears as he sat in the public gallery during the brief hearing. A group of people, thought to be family and friends, supported him during the proceedings.

He was in his family's native South Africa with the couple's eight-year-old daughter when he heard about the deaths.

Sky News Reporter Joe Tidy, who was in the courtroom, said: "When Tania Clarence walked in the 42-year-old broke down immediately and began to cry when she looked over to the public gallery.

"She could barely read her name, her date of birth and her address details.

"Gary Clarence arrived ahead of proceedings and sat in the public gallery. He had tears in his eyes and was greeted with lots of support and hugs from people who seemed to know him in the gallery."

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

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

Tania Clarence was arrested after her four-year-old daughter, Olivia, and three-year-old twin sons Ben and Max were found dead at the family's home in New Malden, southwest London, on Tuesday night.

Post-mortem examinations were due to be carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital on the three children on Thursday. They are understood to have had spinal muscular atrophy.

The life-limiting genetic condition is also known as floppy baby syndrome and leaves children with little or no control of their movement.

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

The couple moved into their 1.2m house around six months ago after the property was redeveloped with mobility equipment, including a lift.

A neighbour of the family, retired nurse Joy Devis, 86, described the Clarences as a "delightful couple".

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