Deaths of three children 'extreme tragedy' say family
The father of three children found dead at their London home has returned from South Africa, as police continue to question his wife over the deaths.
Tania Clarence, 42, is being held on suspicion of murder after a girl, aged four, and twin boys, aged three, were found dead in New Malden on Tuesday.
The children were named as Max, Ben and Olivia Clarence in a statement released by solicitors on behalf of the family.
The statement said it was an "extreme tragedy" with devastating consequences.
Gary Clarence, who works as a director at City bank Investec, was on holiday with members of his family 100 miles north of Johannesburg when UK authorities told him about his children.
Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
A close friend of the Clarence family told me that Gary Clarence arrived in the UK from South Africa this morning.
According to the friend, Mr Clarence is being accompanied by several members of his family, including his mother, brother and sister and his eldest daughter.
Mr Clarence had been on holiday with members of his family 100 miles north of Johannesburg when UK authorities told him about his children.
The friend said Mr Clarence was in a "complete state of shock".
He confirmed that the three dead children suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. News of the diagnosis when Tania Clarence was pregnant with her twins had "hit the family very hard" and that it was a "massive blow". But he said, they had "coped really well".
The friend said she had given up work as a graphic designer to look after the children full time.
The children had the life-limiting genetic disorder Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Police say post-mortem examinations will take place at Great Ormond Street later.
Officers were called to the family home in Thetford Road at about 21:30 BST and found the children dead.
Mrs Clarence was taken to hospital for treatment to minor injuries and later discharged and arrested on suspicion of murder.
She remains in custody at a south London police station.
The statement from the Clarence family requested privacy following the deaths.
A close friend told the BBC Mr Clarence was in a "complete state of shock".
The friend said the three children had Spinal Muscular Atrophy and the diagnosis when Tania Clarence was pregnant with twins had "hit the family very hard" and been a "massive blow".
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
- A genetic disorder that affects nerves responsible for muscle function.
- It 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.
- It is rare, affecting one in every 6,000 babies born in the UK.
- However, the most common of the three forms of SMA is the most severe, and usually proves fatal in a child's first year.
- Children with a milder form of the disorder can live to adulthood.
- The most mild form of SMA does not usually affect life expectancy.