CRIME

The end of the line for Lianne Smith

Revisiting the case of the Briton who suffocated her two children in Lloret de Mar in 2010

Lianne Smith is escorted to judicial offices by Catalan police.
Lianne Smith is escorted to judicial offices by Catalan police.ROBIN TOWNSEND (EFE)

Sat on a brown bedspread in a room in the Hotel Miramar, the curtains drawn, Lianne Smith explains how just a few hours earlier, she killed her two children.

“It was a perfect weekend,” she says, holding back the tears.

She had arrived in the Catalan resort town of Lloret de Mar from Barcelona three days earlier. “We came here with nothing, we didn’t take anything because this was the end of the line,” she says, her voice breaking up.

My intention was to go, my children and me, together” Lianne Smith

In the adjoining room, Rebecca and Daniel, aged five and 11 months, respectively, each lay tucked up in their beds, as though sleeping.

At around 9pm on May 17, 2010, she entered the room before they had woken, sat on them to prevent them moving, and placed a plastic bag over their heads until they suffocated. The next day, around 2.30pm, she went down to reception and asked staff to call the police.

“When we arrived, she seemed far away, as though she were on another planet,” says Josep Monteys, the police officer who heard Lianne Smith’s voluntary confession, recorded on video at the hotel. “She was speaking in slow motion.”

“My intention was to go, my children and me, together,” she tells him, pointing heavenward with her hands.

In 2007, she and her partner, Martin Smith, the father of the two children, had fled to Spain. Martin Smith was wanted by the British authorities, accused of repeatedly raping Lianne Smith’s other daughter from a previous marriage.

They went first to the Costa del Sol, and finally moved to Barcelona. Lianne Smith, then aged 43, used a false name, Ross, and became an English teacher, supposedly married to a writer who never left the house.

We think she tried to suffocate herself as well, but there are no clear indications of this” Josep Monteys, the police officer who heard Lianne Smith’s confession

They lived in three different apartments. Rebecca went to school in the city’s Horta neighborhood and Daniel went to daycare. They behaved like any other young couple with children, as though they had managed to leave the past behind. And when their home was burgled in early 2010, they reported the matter to the police. It didn’t take the authorities long to discover that there was an international arrest warrant out for Martin Smith.

From that moment on, Lianne Smith became increasingly worried that she would be discovered. “She was always looking over her shoulder, thinking she was being watched. She was afraid the British authorities would take away her children,” says Monteys.

Finally, a few days after Martin Smith was arrested by Spanish police and extradited to the UK, she saw no other way out, and, packing a few clothes, took her two children to Lloret de Mar, where she had stayed previously.

“I knew they couldn’t defend themselves,” says Lianne Smith, seated on the brown bedspread. Asked by an investigating judge, she repeats the ages of her children, and insists that she too wanted to die.

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“We think she tried to suffocate herself as well, but there are no clear indications of this. All we have are the notes she wrote, and the outlines she threw into a bin in the bathroom,” says Monteys. Most of what she wrote was to defend Martin Smith’s innocence.

Monteys says he believes that Lianne Smith was never a danger to society. “But there was a minimal amount of planning, there was intention,” he adds.

Daniel and Rebecca were buried in a cemetery in Lloret de Mar: her parents could not afford to have the bodies repatriated. Lianne Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Spanish court, while her husband received a 16-year sentence in the United Kingdom for the sustained sexual abuse of his stepdaughter between 1995 and 2004. In January 2012 he hanged himself in his prison cell.

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