South African family tragedy i

South African family tragedy in London as three siblings killed

Police in New Malden have arrested a 43-year-old South African woman after three children were found dead at their family home in the south-west London suburb last night.

South African family tragedy i
Happier days: Gary Clarence and his twin sons

When police were called out to Thetford Road in New Malden on Tuesday night, they discovered the bodies of three dead children at a five-bedroom house address.

Scotland Yard reported that two boys aged three and a girl aged four were pronounced dead when the police arrived. The respective causes of death remain unknown, but the police have confirmed that post mortems would be performed in due course.

The parents of the children have been identified as a South African married couple known as Gary and Tania Clarence. They had reportedly only moved to New Malden last year after a longer stay in the United States.

Mr Clarence, a senior executive at banking group Investec, was believed to be on holiday in South Africa along with his eldest daughter (7) when the murders of the other three children happened. The police confirmed that the children’s next-of-kin have been informed.

A 43-year-old woman has been taken into custody in connection with the murders and is being held at a south London police station on suspicion of murder, as an investigation into the case is underway. The identity of the woman and her connection to the family or the children remains undisclosed at this stage for legal reasons, however the Evening Standard has reported that she is the children’s mother.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

All three dead children allegedly had a life-limiting genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy and were in need of constant special care, included assistance given by nannies and special carers. The five-bedroom house had recently been fitted with lifts for wheelchairs to accommodate the children’s disabilities.

A neighbour, who opted to not be identified, described the couple as “really, really lovely people” underlining a general feeling of shock that seems to have overcome the quiet neighbourhood in which the tragedy unfolded.

“She is such a lovely person, her life revolves around the children,” the unidentified neighbour remarked about the mother of the children.

Another neighbour, identified as 86-year-old retired nurse  Joy Devis, said she found the news of the deaths a “huge surprise and shock”.

“They are a delightful couple, they seemed to be very happy. Their children were super, lovely children. They were very happy, there was a very nice atmosphere there.”

By Sertan Sanderson, 2014