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UK triple murders: SA mom spared prison

A London court has ruled this afternoon that Tania Clarence undergo treatment in a secure hospital.

FILE: The London home of South African couple Gary and Tania Clarence, where three of their young children were killed on 22 April 2013. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - A South African mother who killed three of her severely disabled children in the family's UK home has been spared prison.

The bodies of her three young children, four-year-old Olivia, and three-year-old twins Max and Ben, were discovered in the family's New Malden home in April.

Tania Clarence admitted to smothering the trio and was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

A London court ruled this afternoon that Clarence undergo treatment in a secure hospital.

Justice Sweeney told Clarence that she abused her position of trust when she suffocated her children.

Sweeney said the courts were right to drop three murder charges and to accept her guilty plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

The hearing lasted 30 minutes and her husband Gary was there watching from the public gallery.

The 43-year-old defendant is said to have loved her children but the judge said she had became overstretched under intolerable strain.

Clarence will be held at a secure hospital. No minimum or maximum period has been set but she was told she would not be released until she has recovered from her proven mental illness.

She was found sobbing and bleeding from an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

The mother, who had quit her career to become her children's primary caregiver, smothered them while her husband and eldest child were visiting family in South Africa.

Police discovered three suicide notes, in which Clarence said she couldn't live with what she had done.