Court warned of "real emergency" 24-hours before Riggi tragedy

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By Christine Lavelle

A COURT was warned three school children were at risk just 24-hours before they are feared to have been killed by their own mum at a flat in Edinburgh, it was revealed yesterday.

A Court of Session judge ordered a warrant to find Theresa Riggi, 46, on Tuesday and for her children to come under the watch of social workers after she failed to show for a divorce hearing.

David Jack, counsel to the children’s father Pasquale, warned the court it was facing a “real emergency” after she refused to tell of their whereabouts in a phone call to her estranged husband.

Lady Clark agreed to grant a warrant allowing court officers to search for Mrs Riggi and said social workers should supervise the children plus apply to a sheriff for child protection orders if necessary.

But after reports of a blaze in the Slateford Road area of Edinburgh on Wednesday which saw her leap from a second floor balcony, the bodies of twins Luca and Austin, eight, and five year old Cecelia were found.

Today Lothian and Borders Police said they only became aware of the concerns after the deaths, but insisted it would have been messengers at arms and not officers who would have enforced the warrant.

That is despite having officers already interviewed her at the same address on Edinburgh’s Slateford Road just 14 days previously.

Too late

Detective Superintendant Allan Jones, who confirmed police had been made aware of the fears raised on Tuesday, said none of his officers had visited the property since 21 July.

He said: “It was not a hearing in a criminal court, so we hadn’t been informed until very recently.

“It would have been a matter for a social worker to take up.”

City of Edinburgh Council confirmed they were asked by the Sheriff Clerk’s office to assist if their social work department felt it necessary in a call at 3pm.

That was almost the exact same time as eyewitnesses called 999 to report the unfolding tragedy.

Mrs Riggi was yesterday still being treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

DS Jones said: “The person we really need to speak to is the mother, but she is still sedated in hospital.”

Yesterday her heartbroken husband Pasquale was brought to Edinburgh for the grim task of saying goodbye to his beloved sons and daughter.

DS Jones said Mr Riggi was “absolutely traumatised” by events but was helping piece together what had happened.

“Traumatised”

He said: “We brought the father down overnight and he is obviously absolutely traumatised, but he realises the information he can give us is invaluable to our investigation.

He said Mrs Riggi’s injuries were serious, but refused to give details.

He also refused to reveal the nature of wounds inflicted on the children.

However he said the scene which had greeted fire-fighters at the flat would have been “completely devastating”.

He said: “Due to the nature of the emergency call, which had led us to believe there had been a gas explosion, what fire-fighters saw was traumatic and completely devastating.

“The only thing I can say is that it is a testament to their professionalism as to the way they handled themselves.”

Floral tributes were left at the scene yesterday, one of them has a toy Winnie the Pooh bear.

One card said: “Gone far too soon (Luca, Austin, Cecilia) You’re in God’s loving arms now. From an Edinburgh taxi driver.”

Another read: “To the little ones lost so tragically. There are now three more stars in the sky. I hope the angels are taking care of you.”

A shaken up member of the public who came to lay a bunch of flowers and said: “I didn’t know them, but I came to pay my respects because it is such a tragedy involving little children.”

Forensic officers spent much of the day at the scene, erecting a tent and tarpaulin to protect the crime scene.

Police said no one had been charged.

They added: “We wish to confirm Lothian and Borders Police received no contact regarding the order given at the Court of Session, which relates to a civil and not a criminal matter.”

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