A mother has admitted stabbing her three children to death in their home during a bitter custody battle with her estranged husband.
Theresa Riggi, 47, appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday. The mother cried as the fiscal revealed to the court that each child had been stabbed eight times.
Riggi had initially been charged with the murder of her eight-year-old twins Augustino and Gianluca - who were also known as Austin and Luke - and her five-year-old daughter Cecilia. But the crown accepted a plea of culpable homicide due to diminished responsibility.
The charge had said that Riggi had "repeatedly struck with a knife or knives" the three children. The killings happened at a flat in Slateford Road in Edinburgh, in August 2010.
After the court appearance, the children's father Pasquale Riggi gave a statement through Victim Support.
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 Austin, Luke and Cecilia dearly, and they will live in our minds and hearts forever. I do not 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 time spent with Austin, Luke and Cecilia.”
Riggi, a prisoner at Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirling, denied a further charge of causing a gas explosion at the Edinburgh town house, which was accepted by the crown.
The court heard that Riggi suffers from three different types of personality disorder – narcissistic, paranoid and hysterical personality disorders.
She was very protective of her children, teaching them at home and not allowing them much contact with the outside world. The court heard that when they went to meet their father, Riggi made them wear tags and gave them all mobile phones that would automatically call her number if they needed her.
Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the court that building manager Derek Knight discovered the bodies of the three children following the explosion at the property.
Mr Knight had been at the townhouses when he heard a loud explosion at about 3pm and witnessed smoke coming from the second-floor balcony doors.
The court heard that he opened the garage door and turned off the gas.
Mr Knight 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, Mr Knight made his way upstairs to the property where, after forcing entry, he found the bodies of the three children.
The children were laid out on the floor of the bedroom. Mr Prentice said: "Austin was nearest to the door with his head turned towards Cecilia who was in the middle and facing Luke who was lying nearest to the balcony and who was looking at Cecilia. Luke had his arm lying over Cecilia. All the children were bloodstained."
Police said a song was playing from a laptop with the title of "Angel" and the artist recorded as "Tess Riggi".
Riggi and her husband Pasquale were involved in a legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh over the children at the time of the tragedy.
Donald Findlay QC, defending Riggi, reserved mitigation for the next hearing but said that what had been said in court was “but half the story”.
He added: “It was not the children who were to die that day, it was all four of them who were to die that day. She felt betrayed and let down by many parties.
“She came to a point where she believed the only thing she could do was to allow the children peace, safety and security in the afterlife, an afterlife in which she intended to be with them to guard them and to protect them.
“This is without doubt the most tragic and difficult case that I have ever had to deal with in over 35 years in these courts. In the realms of tragedy there really are no words adequate enough to say fully just how tragic this whole matter is.”
The family had moved to the city from Skene, Aberdeenshire, following the breakdown of Riggi's marriage.
Lord Bracadale told Riggi: "While your responsibility is diminished, you do still have responsibility for your actions and I have to impose a sentence to reflect that."
He deferred sentence until April 26 at Glasgow High Court to allow for psychiatric and risk assessments to take place.