Father pays tribute to his three special children

The father of three children allegedly murdered by their mother has spoken of his grief and described the trio as a beautiful blessing.

Theresa Riggi has been charged with the murder of twins Austin and Luke, eight, and Cecilia, five, after they were found dead in Edinburgh on 4 August.

They had moved there from Skene, Aberdeenshire, in July.

Her husband, Pasquale Riggi, said: "We were so blessed, the memories we have will forever provide joy."

The children were found in a flat in Edinburgh's Slateford Road.

California-born Mrs Riggi was found badly injured and has been receiving treatment in hospital since.

She has not yet appeared in court.

Mr Riggi, also from the US, gave his first media interview on Wednesday afternoon.

He spoke in glowing terms of this three children, and of how family, friends and colleagues, as well as his religious faith, were providing great comfort.

He did not speak about his wife.

A Shell employee in Aberdeen, he said of the tragedy: "It's been shocking. You are paralysed with grief.

"The hardest moment was when I first found out.

Image caption Theresa Riggi has been charged with the murder of the three children

"Your life is all about your children. In one instant that's gone."

Mr Riggi said he was at home when the news was broken to him by police.

"I would have never dreamed in a million years what they told me," he said. "Your heart just drops.

"Obviously it leads to how, what, why? That's going to take some time to play out."

He said he last saw his children on 4 July when they went to Aberdeen beach, and they had a "very enjoyable" day together, of which he had "fond memories".

Mr Riggi said his daughter Cecilia - who he described as a "little Spitfire" - would have turned six on Monday.

He said she had been very excited about a Disney princesses-themed party.

Mr Riggi said they bought a cake on Monday and watched some footage of her dancing to mark her birthday.

He said: "She was very much a little girl."

Mr Riggi said twins Austin and Luke would be forever intertwined.

He said the boys - who loved dinosaurs - were competitive, and would "achieve greater things because they were so close".

'Safe place'

Mr Riggi said: "Once all the initial shock and sadness subsides there will be deep pain."

He praised the support he had received from around the world, which he said had left him humbled.

Mr Riggi thanked his parents, relatives, friends, Shell colleagues, relatives of his wife in America, church members, the local community, and family liaison support from Lothian and Borders Police.

Mr Riggi said: "I am doing pretty well, because I have had my closest friends and family around me.

"I am religious, I was raised as a Catholic. We believe Austin, Luke and Cecilia are with God.

"I am trying not to think about their death, and I think about what they are experiencing now.

"They are truly in a safe place."

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