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Lianne Angela SMITH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Obsessed that children would be taken into care by UK social services because of paedophile charges against boyfriend
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: May 17, 2010
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1967
Victim profile: Her two children, Rebecca, 5, and Daniel, 11 months
Method of murder: Suffocation with a plastic bag
Location: Lloret de Mar, Girona, Spain
Status: Sentenced to 30 years in prison on July 2, 2012

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Lianne Smith jailed for 30 years for murdering her baby son and his sister, 5, in their Spanish hotel room

  • 45-year-old given 15 years for each count of murder in written sentence

  • Was obsessed that children would be taken into care by UK social services because of paedophile charges against boyfriend

  • Asked daughter if she'd prefer 'brilliant few days' or lifetime without her

  • Spent two days in resort playing on beach before suffocating them both in their sleep

By Sam Greenhill -

July 3, 2012

A British woman was yesterday sentenced to 30 years in a Spanish jail for murdering her two ‘defenceless’ children.

A judge said it was ‘absolutely clear’ that Lianne Smith had planned the deaths of Daniel, 11 months, and Rebecca, five.

The prosecution had called for the maximum sentence of 34 years, but Judge Adolfo Garcia Morales jailed her for 15 years for each murder.

He described how Smith had suffocated the sleeping youngsters who were ‘totally incapable’ of defending themselves.

The judge said: ‘Daniel was less than a year old. He was a baby and therefore, by his very nature, was totally defenceless.

‘The daughter Rebecca was almost six years old which also made her totally incapable of defending herself in the face of a murderous act carried out by her mother.

‘In her own description of the crimes, the accused told how she took them sleeping from their bed, pinned down their legs with her own legs to prevent them moving and put a plastic bag over their heads until they were asphyxiated.’

Smith, 45, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, was found guilty of double murder by a jury following a four-day trial at Girona provincial court in north-east Spain last month.

Jurors rejected defence claims that she was criminally insane. She is on suicide watch at a secure psychiatric hospital inside a prison near Barcelona.

Smith feared the children would be taken from her by social services after her fugitive paedophile partner Martin Smith, 46, a TV psychic, was arrested on child sex charges at their home in Barcelona in May 2010.

He was later jailed for 16 years for repeatedly raping a minor and hanged himself in prison in Manchester in January this year.

The couple, who shared a surname but were not married, had fled to Spain after Martin Smith was accused of the rapes.

After his arrest Lianne Smith, a former county council children’s services manager, took Rebecca and Daniel to the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar where she gave them ‘a perfect holiday’ before suffocating them in their hotel room.

The next day – having tried to commit suicide – she told reception to call police.

During her trial, Smith refused to answer more than 100 questions from prosecutor Victor Pillado Quintas.

The jury were shown the chilling video of Smith calmly confessing to detectives as she sat on a bed in the next-door hotel room.

She told officers: ‘I have ended the lives of my two children. I gave the children a three-day holiday, a perfect holiday. I knew they were going to take my children to England.

‘My intention was that my children and me together would go. It wasn’t just the children.’

Smith - a former manager at Cumbria county council’s children’s services department - described how she had killed Daniel first, saying: ‘I put a bag on his head.

'All of the head was in. [I knew when he was dead] because I was holding him.’

Asked if her daughter had put up a struggle, Miss Smith replied simply: ‘She moved, yes.’

Miss Smith then spent the night in the hotel room cuddling her dead children, writing a series of notes. One to Rebecca and Daniel said: ‘I love you very much. I wanted to give you a lovely life together. I’m very sorry.’

The court heard Smith was ‘pathologically obsessed’ with her partner Martin Smith. The couple, who were not married but shared the same surname, first met in October 1992 through a dating agency.

Smith was going through a divorce from her first husband at the time and was then living in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear.

Mr Smith, originally from North Shields, had been a singer in a band in clubs in the North East before working as a TV psychic.

The couple lived together in Cumbria and in 2007 they moved to Lichfield, Staffordshire, but only stayed there for a few months before fleeing to Spain with Rebecca.

Daniel was born in Spain in June 2009. The court heard it was not clear who was the father of Rebecca and Daniel.

In May 2010 Martin Smith was tracked down and deported to face trial in the UK. He was convicted of repeatedly raping Lianne Smith’s daughter from a previous relationship, Sarah Richardson, when she was a child.

Sarah, now 24, waived her anonymity after Smith was jailed last year in Manchester. He hanged himself in prison last January.


Martin Smith, who once appeared on Living TV’s Most Haunted show, was jailed for 16 years having been found guilty on 11 counts of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault.

At his trial in 2010, the court heard how he used violence and hypnotism to abuse his victim for almost a decade, starting in May 1995 when she was seven. What could not be reported at the time was that his victim was none other than Sarah, Lianne Smith's own daughter.

Sarah later waived her right to anonymity to tell the disturbing story of how her 'controlling' stepfather was a ruthless abuser who turned her mother into a stranger. By the time Sarah was ten, Smith had started to use hypnotism to try to put her in a trance before raping her.

‘He’d say to me: “You are getting sleepier and sleepier”, and I’d pretend to go along with it because he was going to do whatever he wanted to me anyway,’ she says. ‘Afterwards he would count me back out of the trance and say something like “you’ve had a dream” or “you’ve been somewhere nice and warm”.

‘He’d finish by asking: “So what have you been doing?” and I’d say: "Oh, I’ve had a nice dream”, and he would think that was great and send me off to bed. ‘I think he hoped I wouldn’t remember the abuse, because if I didn’t know it had happened, he didn’t need to feel guilty.’

Smith fled to Barcelona with Leanne in 2007 after he was arrested and questioned by police over allegations he had sexually abused his step-daughter.

They travelled to Spain with their daughter, Rebecca, three, and began building a new life eventually setting up a business among the thriving expat community In Barcelona.

But police never gave up the hunt and Smith, from North Shields, was tracked down in May 2010 and extradited back to the UK to face charges.


Did killer mother Lianne Smith work as a prostitute? Riddle of children's real father deepens after police 'reveal her paedophile partner was her pimp'

  • Mystery over DNA sample after Interpol contacts court

  • Smith admitted smothering son and daughter at Costa Brava hotel

  • Jury rejects defence claim she was mentally ill

  • Psychiatrist claimed Smith was in a psychotic state and acted 'out of love'

  • Jury said she had been 'fully conscious'... her actions were wrong

By Sam Greenhill and Jaya Narain -

June 23, 2012

As Lianne Smith today faced up to 34 years in a Spanish jail for killing her two children, a riddle over their paternity took a bizarre twist.

It has been claimed that their mother had allegedly once worked as a prostitute offering ‘personal services’ to clients across the North of England.

Police sources alleged her paedophile partner Martin Smith would drive her to clients and wait in the car.

The mystery over their true parentage was made deeper by the fact Rebecca was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 2004, and Daniel was born in Barcelona, in 2009.

A senior police source in Britain said: ‘In the 1990s, the family had very little money and at one stage were even forced to live for some time in a static caravan.

‘During this time Lianne was offering "holistic" or "personal" services to a wide range of clients in the North, and Martin Smith would drive her to one of these sessions and wait in the car while she conducted the business.

‘It is generally understood by those investigating the case that Miss Smith was offering sexual services to those clients – that she was in fact a prostitute.’

No one from Miss Smith's family could be contacted for comment on the allegations.

Her trial in Spain had heard the bombshell DNA revelation that the children she suffocated were not fathered by Smith, but last night that claim was thrown into doubt.

A court source said: 'Interpol contacted the court some time ago to tell us the DNA sample we were sent by the British authorities may not have been Martin Smith's.'

Rebecca was born on July 15, 2004, at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital. On her birth certificate, the father is named as Martin Anthony Smith, a ‘music business manager’.

Whether Smith was still offering ‘personal services’ to paying customers when her daughter was conceived - is unknown. But it was around that time, in 2003, she and Smith broke up for around five months.

Daniel was conceived around September 2008, nine months after the family had fled to Spain and were living together in a Barcelona apartment. Smith was aged 42 at the time.

The boy was born at Vall d’Hebron hospital on the outskirts of Barcelona on June 28, 2009. But yesterday Spanish officials could find no record of his birth being formally registered.

At the end of her trial earlier this week, Smith, from Litchfield, Staffordshire, stared blankly at the floor as the unanimous guilty verdict rang out at Girona Provincial Court, in north-east Spain.

The 45-year-old is now on suicide watch after previously trying to kill herself.

After eight hours’ deliberation, the jury foreman announced the panel of seven men and two women had believed Smith was ‘fully conscious’ and knew what she was doing when she smothered Rebecca, five, and 11-month-old Daniel in their beds in a Costa Brava hotel.

They flatly rejected Smith’s defence claim that she was insane, pronouncing her guilty on both counts of murder.

It means she faces spending the next three decades in a standard Spanish prison cell, as the jury rejected an alternative verdict which would have allowed her to serve her sentence in a psychiatric wing.

Jurors agreed Smith, from Lichfield, Staffordshire, did suffer from an unspecified psychosis and from depression – but ruled she was not criminally insane.

They said she ‘took advantage of the trust the children gave her as their mother’ and their ‘defencelessness’ as sleeping children.

Judge Adolfo Garcia Morales will sentence her at a later date.

Outside court, prosecutor Victor Pillado Quintas said: ‘Today justice has been done for two defenceless small children who were murdered in the most abominable and vile way – by their own mother.’

After the verdicts, the judge and lawyers in the case joined members of the jury in a local bar.

During a four-day trial, the court heard how she killed the children after Smith, 46, her fugitive partner, was arrested on child sex charges at their home in Barcelona.

The hypnotist, from Tyneside, hanged himself in jail in Manchester in January after being reported for sexual abuse.

Lianne became obsessed with the idea that UK social services would put the youngsters in care – which she considered a fate ‘worse than death’.

She asked her daughter if she would prefer to spend a few brilliant days with her mother or a horrible lifetime without her.

When Rebecca said she wanted to stay with her mother, Smith took the children to the resort of Lloret de Mar to give them ‘a perfect holiday’.

They checked into room 101 of the Hotel Miramar on May 15, 2010.

After two days of playing together and posing for seaside snaps, she put them to bed at about 7pm and waited an hour until they were asleep.

Then she took a plastic shopping bag and suffocated them.

The next day – having tried to commit suicide – she instructed reception to summon Spanish police.

During her trial Smith refused to answer more than 100 questions from prosecutor Victor Pillado Quintas.

The jury were shown a chilling video of Smith calmly confessing to detectives as she sat on a bed in the next-door hotel room.

She told officers: ‘I have ended the lives of my two children.

'I gave the children a three-day holiday, a perfect holiday. I knew they were going to take my children to England.

‘My intention was that my children and me together would go. It wasn’t just the children.’

The court heard Smith was ‘pathologically obsessed’ with her partner Martin Smith – they shared their surname but she was not his wife.

As she was led away to the cells last night, British social services faced questions about their role in the tragedy.

Both Cumbria and Staffordshire social services knew Rebecca was potentially at risk when Martin Smith was arrested on November 1, 2007, on suspicion of rape.

Yet they allowed the family to flee to Spain before Rebecca could be taken to safety.

Last night a blame game erupted as Cumbria social services said they had passed the file to Staffordshire, who said they were relying on the police to chase the family in Spain.

The Spanish equivalent of social services claimed: ‘Nobody put us on alert and so nobody took any measures to protect the children.’

Even after Martin Smith was deported to the UK, Staffordshire social services did not ask its counterpart to retrieve Rebecca, and two weeks later she was dead.

A Staffordshire council spokesman said: ‘During the short time the family were resident in Staffordshire, the council did everything possible to initiate safeguarding procedures, and have assisted police fully in their continued investigations into this case.’


'I killed my kids then cuddled their bodies': Mum tells court of the night her two children died

Lianne Smith is accused of murdering her children after her TV psychic husband was arrested on child sex abuse charges before hanging himself

By Steve Myall -

June 18, 2012

A chilling video in which a mum tells how she suffocated her two children with a plastic bag was today shown to a jury.

Lianne Smith, 45, said after killing 11-month-old Daniel and Rebecca, five, in a Spanish hotel room, she spent the night cuddling their bodies.

She told the court: “I ended the lives of my two children. Then I lay in the bed beside them, I gave them a cuddle.

"I talked to them until about 9pm, then I went into the bathroom.”

The video was filmed by police in the room next to where her children lay just hours after the killings.

Smith said of Daniel’s death: “I put a bag on his head. All of the head was in.”

She added that she knew when he was dead “because I was holding him”.

She told detectives she then killed Rebecca with the same bag, adding her daughter moved as she clasped the bag around her throat, but did not grab her or kick out.

Smith then spent the night in the hotel room with her dead children writing a series of notes.

One to Rebecca and Daniel said: “I love you very much. I wanted to give you a lovely life together. I’m very sorry.”

Smith wept in court in Girona, Spain, as she explained she killed the children because she feared they would be taken away after her partner Martin Smith was arrested on child sex charges.

She told police she tried to cut her own wrists and throat, tried to drown herself, suffocate herself and hang herself but failed in her suicide bids.

At 1.30pm the next day, she went to the hotel reception and asked a member of staff to call police and ambulance, despite knowing the children were already dead.

She told detectives her older daughter from a previous relationship had accused Smith, who she never married but shares the same name, of sexual abuse.

She said: “They wanted to take my daughter into care so we left England and moved to Barcelona to live a normal life.”

The jury was told she moved to Barcelona with Rebecca and Smith, from North Shields, wanted in the UK on child sex charges, before Daniel’s birth.

But Martin Smith was arrested on a European warrant by Spanish police at their flat in May 2010.

Lianne Smith took the two children to Lloret de Mar on the Costa Blanca and checked into the £53-a-night Hotel Miramar where she behaved as if they were on holiday for three days before killing the youngsters.

In the video she told detectives: “I gave them a three-day holiday, a perfect holiday.

"Because it was the end of the road. I knew they were going to take my children to England.

“My daughter didn’t want to go. I know it’s not right to take a life. I felt I was in a corner.

“My intention was that my children and me together would go. It wasn’t just the children.”

n court today Smith, from Lichfield, Staffs, refused to answer more than 100 questions from state prosecutor Victor Pillado Quintas.

But she spent five minutes answering those from her defence lawyer Jenifer Lahoz Abos, who said her client admitted killing the two children but called for her to be acquitted on mental health grounds.

Smith, the ex-boss of children’s services at Cumbria County Council, wept as she insisted: “I love my children.”

Asked if she remembered what happened on the night she killed her children, she replied: “Not exactly.”

Mr Quintas told the jury that Smith “took advantage of the trust the children gave her as their mother” when she killed them.

He added that they were asleep and “totally incapable of defending themselves”.

He called for Smith to be jailed for 38 years for two counts of murder, adding: “The prosecution says she was not suffering mental illness.”

Martin Smith, an ex-TV psychic, was jailed for 16 years at Manchester crown court in March 2011 for repeatedly raping Smith’s daughter from a previous relationship, Sarah Richardson.

Mrs Richardson, now a nurse, waived her right to anonymity to explain he abused her for a decade after attempting to put her in hypnotic trances.

Martin, 46, was convicted of 11 counts of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault.

He hanged himself in his cell at HMP Manchester in January.

Lianne Smith’s trial continues.



Letter from murder charge mother tells of 'wonderful holiday'

A mother who has admitted killing her two children in a Spanish hotel spoke of giving them a ''short and wonderful holiday'' prior to their deaths, it has emerged.

May 29, 2010

Rebecca Smith, five, and her 11-month-old brother Daniel were found dead at the Hotel Miramar in Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava, on May 18.

Their mother, Lianne Smith, who is now in custody, admitted asphyxiating them with a plastic bag, Spanish court officials said.

In a letter seen by the Daily Mail, Mrs Smith said she fled her home in Barcelona and headed to the resort because people were trying to ''take my children''.

The letter reads: '' attempt was made to take my children.

''Fortunately I got out of the city with them and gave them a short and wonderful holiday before the events you will start to hear about in the press.''

Mrs Smith sent the letter, along with photographs of her and the children, to a publicist she had contacted through the internet.

The family fled from the UK in 2007 after the children's father, Martin Smith, 45, was arrested over alleged child sex offences.

Smith, originally from North Shields, was one of Britain's most wanted men until Spanish police tracked him down and arrested him earlier this month.

Mrs Smith has said she was worried the authorities would take her children from her.

The letter also says Mrs Smith believed events were ''turning'' against her.

She explains that she headed for the resort as she had spent three weeks there with her partner when they first moved to Spain in 2007.

Spanish police have said she tried to kill herself before she was arrested in connection with her children's deaths.

Mrs Smith, 43, was transferred to prison last Friday after a judge in Blanes, near Lloret de Mar, ruled that a case should be brought against her.

A document detailing last Friday's court hearing read: ''Smith spontaneously declared that she had killed her two children.

''Asked if she wanted to be present when the two bodies were removed, she declined as she said she had already said goodbye to her two children.''

She was formerly a manager at Cumbria County Council's children's services department but did not work directly with children.

Her partner appeared before Carlisle magistrates earlier this month charged with 13 sexual offences and one count of jumping bail.



Spanish murder suspect Lianne Smith refusing food and drink in prison

The British mother jailed after confessing to killing her two children in the hotel room of a Spanish holiday resort is refusing to eat or drink, it has emerged.

By Fiona Govan -

May 22, 2010

Lianne Smith is being held on remand in Girona prison following the murder of Rebecca, five, and 11-month old Daniel at the Hotel Miramar in Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava, on Tuesday.

In a court hearing on Friday a judge heard that she had admitted to suffocating her children by placing a plastic bag over their heads.

She reportedly then tried to kill herself using the same method and left what was intended to be a suicide note, in which she asked for forgiveness, at the scene.

Authorities fear that the 43-year-old may make further attempts to take her own life after she told them: "I want to join my children on the other side."

Prison guards have Smith on 24-hour suicide watch in a cell on her own and away from other inmates at the city jail where she was transferred on Friday evening.

he is reportedly refusing to eat or drink, according to prison sources, and has already been visited by a medic at the jail and by British consular staff.

Smith may be asked to decide whether the bodies of her two youngest children should be repatriated to Britain or buried in Spain when they are released following full results of the post mortems carried out at Girona's Institute of Legal Medicine.

It is understood that no relatives have yet come forward to claim responsibility for the bodies of the two youngsters.

Their father, Martin Smith, 45, was arrested in Barcelona at the home he shared with his partner and two children, on May 7 for child sex offences after being on the run from British police for more than two years.

The self-styled television psychic who appeared on a list of most wanted Britons was extradited to Britain last Tuesday, around the same time that the murders were discovered, and appeared in Carlisle court the following day. He too, has been remanded into custody.

Mrs Smith worked for Cumbria County Council before fleeing to Spain with her partner of 18 years, where she retrained as an English language teacher. During her court hearing, it emerged that she had told Catalan authorities that she feared that social services were about to take Rebecca and Daniel into care.

She has two older children, both now adults, from a previous relationship.



British mother 'spent night with dead children in Spainish hotel'

The British mother accused of killing her two young children in a Spanish resort spent the night beside their dead bodies before alerting police, it has emerged.

By Fiona Govan -

May 22, 2010

Lianne Angela Smith suffocated Rebecca, five, and 11-month-old Daniel by putting a plastic bag over their heads, then attempted to kill herself using the same method, police sources have claimed.

She reportedly left a suicide note in which she wrote: “I hope you can forgive me”.

The 43-year-old allegedly killed the children and attempted suicide late Monday and spent the night lying beside their lifeless bodies, finally alerting the hotel reception on Tuesday around 2pm, it was reported in Catalan daily newspaper El Punt.

Officers found the bodies of the two children lying side by side tucked up in the bed of room 101 at the four-star Miramar Hotel in the popular resort of Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona.

Their deaths came less than two weeks after Mrs Smith’s partner, Martin Smith, 45, originally from North Shields, was arrested in Barcelona in connection with sex offences against children in the UK.

A self-styled TV psychic, he had been on the run for two years and was traced by Spanish police after his partner reported a robbery at their rented apartment in Barcelona.

Just hours before she left the city and drove 50 miles north to Lloret de Mar, Mrs Smith hired a nanny to live in the family home in the Catalan capital.

Mimi Buckley, 21, from Merseyside, answered an advertisement for a live-in position on Wednesday 12 May. She moved into the Smith’s rented apartment near the Sagrada Famila two days later but within 24 hours the mother had taken the children and disappeared.

“I think she meant to hire me as a nanny, leave her child­ren with me and then commit suicide,” said Miss Buckley. “But I don’t think she could bear to leave them, so she did what she did. It’s so sad.”

She described the children as "beautiful" and spoke of Rebecca's love of drawing and "girly things".

Mrs Smith today appeared before a judge in a closed court hearing in the town of Blanes, four miles south along the coast from the crime scene.

After several hours in front of the magistrate she was expected to be remanded into custody and taken either to a prison in the regional capital Girona or to a secure psychiatric unit, depending on the assessment of her mental state.

Mrs Smith, who has two older children from a previous relationship, reportedly blamed herself for inadvertently leading police to her partner, whom she maintained was innocent of the charges.

The couple, who met in 1992 and are not married but have the same surname, fled to Spain with their daughter two and a half years ago after he was charged and bailed for sexual offences on a minor.

They had another child, she retrained as an English language teacher, and attempted to set up pre-school groups for English speaking children in the Catalan capital.

Mr Smith, who appeared on a “most wanted” criminal list released by British police nine months ago, used the alias “Tony Ross” and kept a low profile but was discovered by the Mossos d'Esquadra, Catalonia's regional police force, and arrested on May 7.

He was extradited to Britain last week and on Wednesday appeared in court in Carlisle.

Mrs Smith has been on 24 hour suicide watch after telling police that she “intends to join her children on the other side”.

She has made a full confession, according to police sources, in which she claimed that she was motivated by the fear that her children would be taken into care.



Spanish toddler deaths: The nightmare of room 101

The note fixed to the wooden door of hotel room 101 read: “Do not disturb, my children are ill.”

By Jeremy Armstrong -

May 20, 2010

The note fixed to the wooden door of hotel room 101 read: “Do not disturb, my children are ill.”

But behind it was a nightmare scenario where the lifeless bodies of 11-month-old Daniel and Rebecca, five, lay – allegedly ­suffocated by their disturbed mother Lianne Smith.

She had apparently killed them by holding plastic bags over their heads until they stopped breathing.

It is believed Lianne, 43, then made a failed suicide attempt before going to reception and asking staff to call police in the Spanish resort of Lloret de Mar.

As police uncovered more details behind the horrific deaths yesterday, it was revealed she feared Daniel and Rebecca would be taken into care after their dad was arrested on child sex offences.

Martin Smith, 45, who had been on the run for two years, was extradited to Britain from Barcelona on Tuesday.

He appeared at Carlisle magistrates’ court yesterday to face 13 child sex charges just hours after being told of the deaths.

Staff at Lloret’s Miramar hotel, on the Costa Brava, said Lianne was in a “zombie state” immediately after the deaths.

A security guard said: “She came downstairs and calmly asked reception to call the police and send them to her room. Then she sat down on the sofa in reception and just stared into space and waited for them to arrive. She was completely unemotional.

“Police and ambulance arrived and it all went crazy and through it all she was just sitting there, staring.”

According to reports, Lianne left a confession note in the room, which was found by officers alongside the children’s bodies.

Yesterday, the former council education officer was held in a police station in Blanis, near Barcelona, waiting to appear in court.

Miramar guests Siiri and Andres ­Sonajalg returned to their four-star hotel at 2.30pm on Tuesday to find the area full of police. Room 101 had been sealed.

Siiri, 47, said: “We saw men with white gloves and lots of policemen.

“I am so shocked as everyone at the hotel seems so normal and you can’t imagine something like this.”

Andres, 49, added: “When we arrived back the ambulance was there and we realise now they must have been trying to revive the children. It’s very tragic.”

The door to the Smiths’ rented £750-a-month flat in Barcelona was yesterday sealed with police tape. It is in the same street as Kylie Minogue’s boyfriend Andres Velencoso.

Neighbour Rosa Asencio, who lived two floors below, said: “I can’t believe this English woman is the one under arrest.

“It is just so awful. She had been living here for about six months with her partner and their two children. I saw her more than I did him. She kept herself to herself but always said hello.”

Smith was one of Britain’s most wanted men after skipping bail in 2008.

Police captured him in Barcelona on May 7 after a local restaurant owner helped police to find him.

The businessman, who asked not to be named, said: “The police showed me a photo and I recognised him as someone who came to eat here from time to time.

“He must have been in about four or five times in the last few months. They came back afterwards to say they had found him and thank me for my help.”

Smith and Lianne flitted from home to home across the north west of England between 2003 and 2007.

Up to 2003, they rented a small, double-fronted, pebbled-dashed bungalow in the village of Brampton, near Carlisle, Cumbria, from the owner of a local garden centre.

They left unexpectedly, according to Rod McCloud, who has lived their since.

He said: “The landlord told me they did a moonlight flit. The place was completely empty. I never met them.”

From there, Smith and Lianne moved to Blackpool, where their daughter Rebecca was born in 2005. Rebecca’s birth certificate confirmed Smith was her father. But locals in the seaside town claim they rarely saw the family – and they again left in a hurry.

The family lived in a white-washed, three-bed, large Victorian terrace in the heart of the town, with a view of ­Blackpool Tower.

But the landlord of their former home said the couple had disappeared from the property with their daughter, leaving unpaid rent and the house in a terrible state. He said: “There were toys all over the place and filth – it was appalling.”

They returned to Cumbria to a three-bed house in Carlisle, but Smith was arrested on suspicion of child sex charges, and skipped bail. A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “They just ­disappeared one day.”

They moved to Lichfield, Staffs, on a modern estate for six months before upping and leaving out of the blue three years ago. One neighbour recalled: “Her husband was quite ignorant – he was anti-social and didn’t speak at all. On one occasion, I spoke to him as he was getting into his car but he completely ignored me. I thought maybe he was deaf but next time he did the same thing. He just did not want to associate with us.”

Staffordshire Police said: “We are very saddened to hear of the tragic deaths. We had been treating Lianne and Rebecca Smith as missing since December 2007.

“Shortly before this time they had moved to Lichfield, but within a short period they had moved again and their whereabouts were unknown.”

Smith faces charges of rape of a child, gross indecency with a girl, indecent assault of a girl and attempted rape of a girl. He could not be granted bail yesterday after Carlisle crown court heard he was suicidal and had already attempted to take his own life.

The children’s bodies have been held in Lloret de Mar and were this morning being taken to the morgue in Girona where a post-mortem will take place to confirm cause of death.



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