Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith Case Police Call in Watchdog; Mother Sees Officers Search Spanish Home

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith Case Police Call in Watchdog; Mother Sees Officers Search Spanish Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosa Silverman

THE case of a family whose two children were found dead in a Spanish hotel room was last night referred to Britain's police watchdog.

The bodies of Rebecca Smith, five, and her brother Daniel, aged 11 months, were found in the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar on Tuesday.

Their mother, Lianne Smith, 43, was arrested by Spanish police on the same day in connection with the deaths.

Their father, Martin Smith, an alleged paedophile, appeared in court in Carlisle on Wednesday charged with 13 child sex offences which were said to have been committed in the Cumbria area between 1995 and 2005.

The 45-year-old, originally from North Shields, had been one of Britain's most wanted men until his arrest by Spanish police in Barcelona earlier this month.

The family previously lived in Cumbria and then Staffordshire, from where the couple and Rebecca had been reported missing in December 2007.

The police forces for both counties have referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the watchdog said.

A spokesman said: "Cumbria Constabulary has made a voluntary referral on behalf of themselves and Staffordshire Police in relation to matters involving Martin Smith, his partner Lianne and daughter Rebecca.

"The IPCC is assessing the information contained in the referral to determine whether it needs to conduct an investigation."

The IPCC will consider the contact that both forces had with the family when they lived in the United Kingdom.

Spanish police are conducting an investigation into the death of the two children who, according to some reports, were suffocated with a plastic bag.

Following the arrest of her partner, Mrs Smith reportedly said she did not know how she would cope.

After he was taken into custody, she told a publicist: "Martin's gone now and I've been left looking after both of the children. I really don't know how I'll cope."

She added: "I'm not sure what my plans are now. I'm trying to get my head together and work out what to do."

It was also reported that Mrs Smith, who is believed to have run a nursery in Barcelona, was worried the Spanish authorities would take her children away. A woman believed to be Mrs Smith was taken to the couple's apartment in the Catalonian capital yesterday. She was escorted by police and a jacket over her head hid her face.

Her wrists appeared to be bandaged, but police said they could not confirm whether she had been treated for any injuries. Detectives are understood to have carried out a search of the premises in her presence.

Mrs Smith later arrived back at the police station in Blanes, the town near Lloret de Mar where she is being held, in a police car.

A one-minute silence was held outside the town hall in Lloret de Mar yesterday, in memory of the two infants. …

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