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Police watchdog probes murder of children in Spain

The case of a family whose two children were found dead in a Spanish hotel room has been referred to Britain's police watchdog.

The bodies of Rebecca Smith (5) and her brother Daniel, aged 11 months, were found in the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar on Tuesday.

Their mother Lianne Smith (43) was arrested by Spanish police the same day in connection with the deaths.

Their father Martin Smith, an alleged paedophile, appeared in court in Carlisle charged with 13 child sex offences said to have been committed in the Cumbria area between 1995 and 2005.

The 45-year-old, originally from North Shields, had been one of Britain's most wanted men until his arrest by Spanish police earlier this month.

The family previously lived in Cumbria and then Staffordshire, from where the couple and Rebecca had been reported missing in December 2007.

The police forces for both counties have referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the watchdog said.

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A spokesman said: “Cumbria Constabulary has made a voluntary referral on behalf of themselves and Staffordshire Police in relation to matters involving Martin Smith, his partner Lianne and daughter Rebecca.” The IPCC will consider the contact that both forces had with the family when they lived in the UK.

Spanish police are conducting an investigation into the death of the two children, who according to some reports were suffocated with a plastic bag.

Mrs Smith reportedly said she did not know how she would cope when her partner was arrested.

It was also reported that Mrs Smith was worried the Spanish authorities would take her children away.

A one-minute silence was held outside the town hall in Lloret de Mar yesterday. More than 100 locals and holidaymakers gathered just yards from the Hotel Miramar, where their bodies were found in room 101.

Mrs Smith will appear in court in Blanes near Lloret de Mar this morning.

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