Theresa Riggi admits killing her three children

image captionTheresa Riggi killed Cecilia, Luke and Austin at their home

A mother has admitted killing her three young children at their Edinburgh home.

Theresa Riggi, 47, pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility. She was originally charged with murder.

Her eight-year-old twins Austin and Gianluca and their five-year-old sister Cecilia were found dead at their flat in Slateford Road on 4 August 2010.

They were discovered with multiple stab wounds after a suspected gas explosion at the property.

Sentencing of California-born Riggi, who denied recklessly causing the explosion, was deferred until 26 April.

The family had moved to the city from Skene in Aberdeenshire following the break-up of her marriage to the children's father, Pasquale Riggi.

Mr Riggi said in a statement, read out by a spokesman from Victim Support Scotland, that the children would live in his heart forever.

He said: "The loss of my three beautiful children has been an overwhelming tragedy.

"Nothing can be said at this or any other time which can mitigate what has happened.

"I and my extended family loved Austin, Luke and Cecilia dearly and they will live in our minds and hearts forever.

"I don't know what lies ahead but wherever life takes me, my friends and family, it will be with the memory of a dreadful loss and with gratitude for all the good times spent with Austin, Luke and Cecilia."

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Riggi had been a protective mother who was involved in a custody battle with her estranged husband over access to the children.

The couple had spoken on the telephone 48 hours before the children were found dead.

During that conversation Riggi asked her husband if he was going to take the children away, to which he replied that she had left him no choice.

Riggi replied: "Say goodbye then" and then hung up the phone.

The court heard how the violinist stabbed each of her children eight times while a song called Angel was playing on a laptop. The name of the artist was given as Tess Riggi.

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told how the children's bodies were found by building manager Derek Knight, who heard a loud explosion at about 1500 BST and saw smoke coming from the second-floor balcony doors.

He opened the garage door and turned off the gas, then returned to see Riggi on the second-floor balcony "screaming loudly".

He noticed she had two cuts on her neck and watched as she climbed on to the railings.

While neighbour Jordan Cochrane urged Riggi not to jump, Mr Knight made his way upstairs to the property where, after forcing entry, he found the bodies of the three children.

He then stepped over the bodies and opened the curtains to see Riggi lying on the ground.

The court heard that Riggi had intentionally fallen head-first from the balcony.

Mr Cochrane attempted to catch her and push her on to the bonnet of a nearby car to break her fall, and both fell to the ground.

Riggi was arrested in connection with the children's deaths after post-mortem examinations were carried out.

Personality disorders

One hearing took place at a specially-convened court inside Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where she was being treated.

Riggi told a hospital chaplain after the killings: "I want to be with my babies. I'm not meant to be here. I'm meant to be with my babies."

image captionRiggi is due to be sentenced at the end of next month

She was also heard speaking to her mother and saying that she had been saved for a reason and her "babies" were being looked after by God.

"She stated that she had a second chance and God had saved her in order to make her husband pay for what he did," said Mr Prentice.

Riggi also told the hospital chaplain that she had to protect the children and get away from "the evil".

Riggi still walked with a limp when she appeared in court on Monday.

Donald Findlay QC, defending, said a report into his client's mental state identified she was suffering narcissistic, paranoid and hysterical personality disorders.

He said: "At the time of the three children's deaths she was suffering from or was in the midst of an acute stress reaction."

'Wall of shock'

Mr Findlay said only half the story had so far been told, and that Riggi had been intent on suicide on the day of the incident.

One of her friends, Amber Sebold, told BBC Scotland about the "wall of shock" she experienced when she heard about the killings.

"She (Riggi) always seemed very together. They were always immaculately dressed, very well cared for," she said.

"She clearly loved them very much, that was never in question."

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