Mother who killed children in 'heinous' attack gets 16 years
Published 28/04/2011 | 05:00
A MOTHER who stabbed her three young children to death in a "heinous" attack after fearing she would lose them in a bitter custody row was beginning a 16-year jail term last night.
Theresa Riggi (47) showed a "truly disturbing degree of violence" when she killed her eight-year-old twins Austin and Luke and her five-year-old daughter Cecilia at their Edinburgh home last August, a judge said.
Her "abnormal and possessive love" for her children led her to stab them each eight times, before trying to take her own life, in the belief that all four would be together forever in the afterlife.
Their bloodstained bodies were found lying side by side at a townhouse in Slateford Road following a gas explosion at the building. Their grief-stricken father, Pasquale Riggi, said yesterday that no sentence could make amends for his "overwhelming" loss as he spoke of his pain at being unable to protect his "wonderful, energetic, bright and happy children" from their mother.
Mr Riggi, who watched proceedings at the High Court in Glasgow from the public gallery, wore a trio of ribbons -- red, yellow and pink -- one for each of his dead children. In a statement read on his behalf afterwards, he said: "There is no justification for this heinous crime, repeated three times, nor is there any sentence that can provide justice for the overwhelming loss of three lives and the subsequent painful grief and devastation caused to surviving family and friends."
Riggi was initially charged with murder but previously admitted three counts of the reduced charge of culpable homicide -- which is roughly equivalent to manslaughter in Irish law -- on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Passing sentence, judge Lord Bracadale told Riggi that her actions had caused a "devastating family tragedy".
He said: "The father of the children, Pasquale Riggi, and the wider family have been left utterly bereft by the loss of the children.
"And you, who had a genuine but abnormal and possessive love of your children, have lost them and are brought to this sorry pass."
Defence counsel Donald Findlay said Riggi was "tortured" every day by what she had done and was "resentful" that her life was saved.