No murder trial in Britain for South African mother who killed her three children

LONDON (AFP) - A South African woman who admitted suffocating her three disabled children at their home in London will not face trial for their murder, British prosecutors said on Monday.

Tania Clarence, 42, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of her three-year-old twins Ben and Max and four-year-old daughter Olivia in April.

She denied murder and was due to go on trial early next year, but state prosecutor Zoe Johnson told a hearing at the Old Bailey court in London that this charge had been dropped.

"It is clear on the evidence Mrs Clarence killed her three children because she wanted to end their suffering and at the time she committed the act she could not see any alternative or any other way out of their joint suffering," she said.

Johnson told the court that Clarence had suffered from a "major depressive episode" which amounted to an "abnormality of mind".

She tried to commit suicide after killing the children.

Clarence, who was not in court, will be sentenced on November 14 when she is expected to be remanded in a secure hospital.

She was detained after her children's bodies were found at the family home in the wealthy suburb of New Malden, southwest London, on April 22.

All three suffered from type 2 spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition which leaves sufferers with little control of their movements and can drastically shorten their life expectancy.

Clarence's husband Gary was away in South Africa at the time with the couple's eldest daughter.