By SHAUNA ANDERSON
Warning: This post deals with a detailed description of the deaths of three children and themes of suicide. It may be distressing for some readers.
The two boys, three-year-old twins, were tucked up in bed, little cars and toys placed by their heads, the covers neatly tucked in, their arms almost translucent lying outside the quilt.
Their older sister, aged four, lay sweetly tucked in bed as well. Her favourite toys surrounding her, as if guards, protecting her from evil.
The boys mouths were open, their eyes wide. Lifeless.
The three children all dead.
Murdered by their own mother.
A prominent case in the UK has tested the limits of public compassion as details of the murders of Max and Ben Clarence and their big sister Olivia have filled newspaper headlines.
Their mother, Tania Clarence, aged 43, had admitted to manslaughter by diminished responsibility.
She had admitted taking a nappy and smothering her sons while they slept.
She had admitted how it was even more difficult to murder four-year-old Olivia.
She had admitted to planning the deaths to coincide with a weekend her husband and older daughter were in South Africa, even giving their Nanny the evening off in anticipation of the murders.
She admitted it all, just as she admitted how crippling it was to live a life caring for three children that Tania Clarence knew would die before her.
Tania’s family life
The life of Tania Clarence was unraveled during her court case for the children’s murders. A life described as a “series of hard blows” by Allison Pearson in The Telegraph.
After the birth of her oldest daughter in 2006, Tania suffered several miscarriages before finally falling pregnant with Olivia in 2009.
Not long after she was pregnant again, giving birth to boy twins, Max and Ben prematurely at 26 weeks while the family was on holiday in Portugal in July 2010.
Four months of intensive care followed.
Devastatingly in this time Tania and her husband Gary found out that all three younger children – Olivia, Max and Ben had Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 2, or “floppy baby” syndrome.
The genetic disorder causes the muscles to waste away over time, which can lead to skeletal deformities, such as abnormal curvature of the spine, and problems walking, eating, drinking and breathing.