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Mother accused of murdering her three Norwich-born children appears at court

PUBLISHED: 08:34 05 February 2011

Archant © 2011

A mother accused of murdering her three Norwich-born children has appeared in court for the first time.

A mother accused of murdering her three Norwich-born children has appeared in court for the first time.

Tearful Theresa Riggi appeared at the High Court Edinburgh yesterday to face three charges of murder and another of culpably and recklessly causing a gas explosion.

The American is alleged to have killed eight-year-old twins Austin and Luke Riggi and their five-year-old sister Cecilia at their home in Edinburgh in August last year.

The children were born in Norwich and had lived with their parents - Theresa and Pasquale - for several years at Corton, near Lowestoft.

Shell employee Mr Riggi, who hails from Colorado, and his wife, from California, came to the UK more than ten years ago. The oil engineer was based at Shell in Lowestoft from 1997 to 2002.

After living near Lowestoft, the family spent two years in Holland before moving to Aberdeen in February 2007. However Mr and Mrs Riggi later separated and had begun divorce proceedings.

Mr Riggi, 46, last saw his children on July 4 when they were treated to a day out at Aberdeen beach to celebrate US Independence Day. But one month later, the bodies of the three children had been found at their Edinburgh townhouse.

Yesterday, Mrs Riggi wept as she was accused of murdering her three young children. The 47-year-old, who wore a white dress and jacket and held a handkerchief as she sat in the dock, appeared for the first time at the High Court for a short preliminary hearing. She had been due to appear in court two weeks ago, but the case was postponed until yesterday.

Police and firefighters were called following a suspected gas explosion at Mrs Riggi’s home in Edinburgh, where they found the bodies of the three children on August 4 last year.

All the events allegedly happened between August 2 and 4 last year, with prosecutors alleging that Cecilia and the twins, who are also known as Augustino and Gianluca, were repeatedly struck on the body with a knife or knives.

Riggi is further alleged to have removed a gas hob from its fixings and undone screws from the burner valves, allowing gas to escape. It is claimed she made sure the windows and doors were locked and ignited the gas, causing it to explode.

The charge claims that the fire which followed caused damage to the property, put people in danger and severely injured Riggi.

Riggi was remanded in custody and the case was continued without plea to a hearing on March 7 in Edinburgh.

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