Father speaks of loss of three children in Edinburgh

The heartbroken father of the three children at the centre of an Edinburgh suspicious death probe said he is “struggling to come to terms” with their loss.

Eight-year-old twins Gianluca and Augustino Riggi, known as Luke and Austin, were found dead in a house on Slateford Road alongside their five-year-old sister Cecilia on Wednesday.

Their mother had thrown herself from the family’s second floor balcony and remains in hospital, where police are waiting to speak to her.
Father speaks of loss of three children in Edinburgh

On Friday, the children’s father, Pasquale Riggi, spoke publicly for the first time since the children’s deaths.

In a statement released through police, he said: “Our family is struggling to come to terms with the immense and tragic loss of three beautiful children.

“Thanks to all who have offered such great comfort and support.

“We request that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time.”

Mr Riggi paid tribute to his children as police worked to establish how they had died. Post mortems were being carried out on the youngsters on Friday morning, with police saying the outcome would determine whether the case was upgraded to a murder inquiry.

The children had been at the centre of a bitter tug-of-love divorce battle between Mrs Riggi and her estranged husband Pasquale, which police have described as “highly significant” to their investigation.

On Tuesday, Mrs Riggi failed to appear in court for a divorce hearing, prompting a judge to issue a warrant allowing court officers to search for her and the children. Lady Clark also said social workers should supervise the youngsters and apply for child protection orders if necessary.

However, on Thursday afternoon it emerged the decision was not passed to social work teams until 3.05pm on Wednesday, around the time emergency services were being called to the family’s home on Slateford Road following initial reports of a gas explosion.

Detectives are currently treating the children’s deaths as suspicious and are waiting to speak to Mrs Riggi about Wednesday’s events. However, she has been in Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary under sedation since the incident and has been too ill to speak to investigators. It is believed officers have been told they will not be able to see her until Friday afternoon at the earliest.

Police would not comment on reports she had suffered self-inflicted wounds, saying only that Mrs Riggi suffered “numerous serious injuries”.

Asked to comment on reports the children had died after being stabbed, Detective Superintendent Allan Jones said: “I can only say that the injuries are suspicious. We are in such a position at present that I can honestly say that I don’t know what the cause of death has been or what the most significant injuries have been.”

Police say investigations at the Slateford road scene are “progressing to a significant degree” however, they have appealed for anyone with information about the family to come forward.

Pasquale and Theresa Riggi, who were originally from the USA but had been living in Scotland for around 13 years, had begun proceedings to separate and on July 11, Theresa and the children were reported missing from their home in Skene, Aberdeenshire.

Two days later, a judge made an order to prevent the youngsters being taken out of the country and demanded the handover of their passports.

The family were eventually traced to the property in Slateford on July 21, where police said they were safe and well, but living a “cosseted” lifestyle. However, further concerns were raised about the children’s safety just 24 hours before their bodies were found.

DS Jones said: “This is the area that we’re looking at. It’s a dark area in the sense that, there’s a lot of unknowns at present. They seem to have been living quite a cosseted life here, and our wider appeal is to anyone who has maybe come across them, encountered them, or seen them out and about in the area around here, to come forward to the police and fill us in with any background knowledge they may have.”

He added: “At this moment in time we’re looking into what associates may have been at this address. Clearly, we’re going to be trying to gather together as much CCTV information as we can from this area and speaking to local residents to find out whether or not there have been other visitors. But at this moment in time we’ve not got any information to suggest that there have been other parties at that address.”