England

Spain death parents left UK 'to protect children'

Martin Smith
Image caption Martin Smith was extradited to the UK from Spain earlier this year

A woman accused of murdering her two children in a Spanish hotel has given evidence in defence of her partner who is being tried for child sex offences.

Martin Smith, 45, from North Shields, denies rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault.

Lianne Smith, 44, said the pair left the UK to "protect" their children from social services.

The couple left in December 2007 after Mr Smith had been accused of the child sex offences.

Kim Whittlestone, defending Mr Smith at Manchester Crown Court, asked his partner why they left the UK for Spain.

Miss Smith spoke via a video-link from Spain where she is being held.

She said: "We left to protect Becky, so... sorry, we left to protect her from Staffordshire Social Services and in particular to protect her from the social workers, who had a mission to take our daughter off us."

Miss Smith is accused of murdering the couple's two children, Rebecca, five, and son Daniel, 11 months, and is due to stand trial in Spain.

'Threat' made

Both children were found dead in the Hotel Miramar in the resort of Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava on 18 May.

Miss Smith said social workers had made the "threat" her daughter would be taken away.

"They had already made that threat on the telephone, they retracted that in front of our lawyer, but they made that threat," she added.

Her partner is accused of using hypnotism and violence to groom and sexually abuse a young girl, who he had regular access to, over the period of a decade.

He was extradited back to the UK earlier this year to stand trial on the child sex allegations. It is not linked to the children's deaths.

Image caption Miss Smith met her partner through a dating agency, the court were told

Miss Smith said she had first met Martin Smith in October 1992, through a dating agency, while she was going through a divorce from her first husband and was then living in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear.

They had had been together for 18 years, the court heard.

Asked to describe him, she said he was, "very, very friendly, generous, kind".

The court heard Mr Smith had worked as a singer in a band in clubs in the North East, at Butlins and as an entertainer on ferries.

'Never violent'

She said Mr Smith had "never" been violent towards her.

"I would have ended the relationship. No, I would never have stayed with him if there had been," she said.

Ms Whittlestone asked if she ever had any concerns about her partner or inappropriate behaviour with young girls.

"No never. Never," she replied.

Mr Smith denies 11 specimen charges of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault, spanning nine years from May 1995 to May 2004.

The trial continues.

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