Child murder charge mother remanded

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A woman wept today as she appeared in court charged with the murder of her three young disabled children - watched by her devastated husband.

Tania Clarence, 42, looked over at her husband and broke down in tears as she stood in the dock accused of killing her three-year-old twin sons, Ben and Max, and four year-old daughter, Olivia, at their home.

Her investment banker husband, Gary, 43, also broke down in tears as he locked eyes with his wife from his seat in the public gallery during the brief hearing.

Wearing a black suit and white shirt, Mr Clarence walked into Wimbledon Magistrates' Court supported by a group of people believed to be family and friends.

He hugged two women in the public gallery before sitting down to watch the proceedings.

Wearing a grey top with a white long-sleeved top underneath, his wife looked fragile as she stood in the glass-fronted dock at the court in south west London, accused of the triple murder.

Her voice shaking with emotion, she spoke only to confirm her name, age and address.

She is accused of three counts of murdering a child aged over one year old between April 20 and April 23 this year.

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.

Police were 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 where they discovered the bodies.

Mrs Clarence, who also has a healthy eight-year-old daughter, was arrested shortly afterwards.

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 at the time of the deaths.

No formal plea was entered and Mrs Clarence was remanded in custody.

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."

Two uniformed police officers stood guard outside the courtroom and the public gallery was packed with press during today's short hearing.

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

Mr Clarence was escorted out of the court by police officers and driven away in a black taxi.

He did not say anything as he walked down the court steps and through a scrum of photographers.

A female police officer stopped traffic to allow Mr Clarence to be driven off quickly.

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