Initial results from post-mortem examinations carried out on two young children — whose mother has been arrested for their murder — showed signs they died of asphyxiation, police said last night.
Further tests are needed before the cause of the deaths of three-year-old Harry and two-year-old Elise Donnison can be fully determined, a spokesman for Sussex Police said.
The bodies of the two children were discovered in holdalls in the back of a car near their former home in Heathfield, East Sussex, after their mother Fiona Donnison (43) went to police in a distressed state on Wednesday morning.
Detectives are still waiting to question former City worker Mrs Donnison, who was arrested after she went to Heathfield police station and asked officers to go and search her silver Nissan car.
When police forced entry to the vehicle, which was parked in Mill Close near the former family home, they found the bodies of Harry and Elise in two large holdalls in the boot. Following the results of post-mortem examinations carried out at King's College Hospital in London yesterday, police confirmed that the children had been dead for less than a day when their bodies were discovered.
Their mother was in a stable condition at Eastbourne District General Hospital with “apparent self-harm injuries” and was not expected to be discharged until late last night or today.
Last night a family friend said the children's father Paul Donnison expressed concern to police about their safety in his estranged wife's hands before they were killed.
The friend, who declined to be named, said Mrs Donnison had “demonstrated personal traits” that worried Mr Donnison about the children’s safety.