An Australian mother has been accused of slowly poisoning her two disabled children to death in financially motivated killings, after it emerged she received more than half a million Australian dollars in insurance relating to the pair.

Police along the Gold Coast allege (via 9 News) that Maree Mavis Crabtree killed her 18-year-old daughter Erin and 26-year-old son Jonathan over an extended period of time. Both children are believed to have been severely disabled.

Erin's body was discovered in September 2012, while Jonathan's was found in July 2017 at the same address in Maudsland, Queensland.

Police did not believe their deaths were suspicious at the time.

It is alleged Ms Crabtree received A$567,863 (£324,164) from two insurance claims: one made before Erin's death and one after. Two more claims were made last year that would have paid out A$363,000, but they were unsuccessful.

Ms Crabtree was arrested this morning (24 January) at her home and will appear at Brisbane Magistrates court later today charged with eight offences. These include two counts of murder, along with counts of torture and grievous bodily harm.

She has also been charged for an alleged armed robbery, and another count of torture relating to a third child, aged 25. Detective Inspector Mark Thompson revealed to local media that the third child is now in the care of authorities.

"These acts haven't been compassionate acts of a stressed mother at her end," he said. "It was calculated, it was planned and it was executed with an end goal in mind."

Thompson appealed for information relating to the alleged crimes, which are said to have taken place across Australia. "Any piece of information, no matter how small, can have a significant impact on our investigation," he said.

Ms Crabtree is set to return to court on 12 February. Her lawyer told media that she plans to "vigorously" contest the charges.