A 34-year-old nanny in China has been sentenced to death after a court found her guilty of killing a woman and her three children as they slept.

Mo Huanjing burned to death a mother and her children by setting their apartment ablaze while they were sleeping. The children were aged between six and 11.

Mo was reportedly a gambling addict and had lost £6,800 in just one night. According to the Daily Mail, she purposely lit the fire at the family home in Hangzhou, eastern China, and was planning to extinguish it in heroic fashion.

She was reportedly hopeful that her "brave actions" would enable her to get a loan from the family to pay off her gambling debts.

The family died in June last year. Mo's gambling spree took place on 21 June and into the early morning hours of 22 June. Before torching the property, she had been stealing watches and jewellery which had netted her about £20,000 from pawn shops.

Mo, who did not speak during the sentencing hearing, was also found guilty of robbery.

It is not known if she will appeal.

China is the world leader for giving out the death penalty and sentences more people than the next top five countries combined. At least 1,032 people were put to death in 23 countries in 2016, down from 1,634 in 25 countries in 2015.

Despite the significant decrease, the overall number of executions in 2016 remained higher than the average recorded for the previous decade.

Beijing does not release statistics on its use of the death penalty, with the figures considered a state secret. But researchers at Amnesty say China, once again, tops the list as the most prolific executioner in the world, putting more people to death than all countries combined.

They accused government officials of "deliberately obscuring the shocking scale of executions" in the country despite repeated official claims it was making progress towards judicial transparency.