‘He never would have left’

2014-04-25 00:00

A FAMILY friend says he doesn’t believe Gary Clarence would have left his wife Tania to care for their three disabled children alone in London if he had suspected she would struggle to cope.

Tania was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murderimg three-year-old twins Ben and Max and four-year-old Olivia.

Gary was on holiday in South Africa with their eldest daughter, Taya (8), at the time.

Family spokesperson Lloyd Marshall said he doesn’t believe Gary’s absence had anything to do with Tania’s alleged action. The high-powered banker travelled frequently on business.

“There was no inkling. They seemed to be coping. He never would have travelled if he thought there was any kind of danger,” Marshall told the Guardian.

The younger children, who suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, could not travel.

Marshall said Gary brought Taya to celebrate her birthday with at a family holiday house in Limpopo.

“Gary isn’t doing well. He is in an absolute state of shock,” said Marshall.

“His mother [Anne Clarence], brother [Kevin] and sister [Derri Phillips] went back to London with him to support him.”

The family arrived in London yesterday morning. Marshall said Gary wanted to speak to his wife yesterday, but he wasn’t sure if this had been possible.

Tania was treated in hospital after her arrest and then detained by police.

It is believed her mother is also in London.

The three youngest children were all wheelchair-bound as a result of the genetic condition spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Taya is healthy.

SMA is caused by a genetic mutation carried by both parents. Any of their children has a one in four chance of having SMA.

The condition, sometimes called “floppy baby syndrome”, causes progressive muscle weakening, leading eventually to trouble breathing. The children were not expected to live much beyond five years.

Marshall said Olivia was diagnosed when she was two, by which time Tania was pregnant with the twins.

“The twins were then born premature and they stayed in hospital for a long time. The parents then asked for the twins to be tested for SMA as well. She came home with three kids severely disabled,” a friend told the Times in South Africa.

She said Tania was a dedicated mother. “I bet Tania had not had a decent night’s sleep in a few years.”

The couple employed a nanny and other carers during the day, but looked after the children alone at night.

International Relations spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said the SA high commissioner in London would offer the couple, who had lived in London for a decade, help if they requested it.

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