Mother admits killing her three children

A mother admitted on Monday that she killed her three children in Edinburgh last year during a custody battle with her estranged husband.

American Theresa Riggi stabbed her eight-year-old twins Austin and Luke and their five-year-old sister Cecilia at their home. Their bodies were discovered following a suspected gas explosion at the house.

At Edinburgh's High Court, Riggi, 47, entered a plea of guilty to the culpable homicide of her three children on the grounds of diminished responsibility, the Press Association reported. She had originally been charged with murder.

Prosecutors had alleged that Cecilia and the twins, who were also known as Augustino and Gianluca, were repeatedly struck on the body with a knife or knives between Aug. 2 and 4 last year.  The family had moved to the city from Skene, Aberdeenshire, following the breakdown of her marriage to the children's father, Pasquale Riggi.

Emergency services were called to the modern townhouse following an explosion on Aug. 4. Riggi was found badly injured after apparently falling from a second-floor balcony and the children's bodies were discovered inside.

The court heard Riggi had been involved in legal proceedings with her husband over access rights to their children prior to the incident.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice told the court that building manager Derek Knight discovered the bodies of the three children following the explosion.

The court heard that he opened the garage door and turned off the gas. He 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.

The court was told that, while neighbour Jordan Cochrane urged Riggi not to jump, Knight made his way upstairs to the property where, after forcing entry, he found the bodies of the three children, lying side by side on the floor.

Cochrane saw Riggi climb on to the railings of the balcony and remain there for about a minute, rocking backwards and forwards, before she intentionally fell head first, the court heard.

The court heard that Riggi had a number of injuries, including four to five stab wounds to her body which were believed to have been self inflicted.

Defence lawyer Donald Findlay said a report into Riggi's mental state identified that she was suffering narcissistic, paranoid and hysterical personality disorders.

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

The case was deferred until April 26 at the High Court in Glasgow when sentence is expected to be passed.

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