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Judge voiced fears for three children a day before deaths

A judge warned that three children at the centre of a bitter custody battle could be in danger just 24 hours before they were found dead, it emerged last night.

Eight-year-old twins Augustino and Gianluca Riggi and their five-year-old sister Cecilia were discovered yesterday at the modern townhouse in Edinburgh's Slateford Road after reports of an explosion.

The children's mother, Theresa Riggi (46), is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after apparently falling from the second floor of the building.

Judge Lady Clark raised concerns about the welfare of the children after their mother failed to appear before a divorce hearing on Tuesday.

The deaths are being treated as suspicious and police want to speak to Mrs Riggi when she is well enough.

Post-mortem examinations were due to be carried out on the children and police insisted it was too early to say whether it was a murder investigation.

The children's father, Pasquale Riggi (46), has been interviewed by police but is not a suspect. He is said to be “heartbroken”.

Police said Mrs Riggi and the children were traced to the Edinburgh address last month after they were reported missing from their home in the Aberdeen area.

When Mrs Riggi, previously of Mosslea Cottage, Skene, Westhill, Aberdeenshire, disappeared again the judge ordered the court's Messengers at Arms to search for her, with Social Services instructed to supervise the children once found and to apply to a local sheriff in relation to their protection if they thought it necessary.

The couple were due in court today for a further hearing.

Detective Superintendent Allan Jones, of Lothian and Borders Police, said it was also too early to determine the children's cause of death.

He said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the children's family, and we are doing what we can to support them at this tragic time.

“The family had been in the city for a few weeks and we are keen to speak to anyone who knew them during that time.”

Mr Jones added: “We are not in a position to speak to the woman yet and we will take advice from her doctors as to when that can happen.

“We would like to do that to get a true background to the events of yesterday and find out exactly what happened within the house.”

Mr Jones said of Mr Riggi: “He's heartbroken, but he's very composed. He realises he holds a lot of central information that we need. We're conscious of the trauma he's gone through.”

The detective said the family came from California and Colorado, although he did not confirm who came from which US state.

Mr Riggi has worked for oil firm Shell since 1987.

He has been in Aberdeen for a number of years and in the country for 13 years, police said.

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