A former Canberra public servant has admitted trying to burn her young children to death in what prosecutors have described as a failed murder-suicide attempt.
The 48-year-old woman, whose name is suppressed, had been expected to stand trial after indicating she would plead not guilty to the attempted murders of her son and daughter following a July 2019 house fire.
But when the woman appeared in the ACT Supreme Court for an arraignment on Wednesday, she pleaded guilty to both counts of attempted murder.
Crown prosecutor Anthony Williamson told the court that as a result of the pleas, two alternative charges of arson endangering life would be dropped.
Mr Williamson has previously said the woman was driven to try and kill her children by a "pathological hatred" of the children's father.
"This is effectively a murder-suicide that was stopped," he told the court in April.
A prosecution case statement tendered to the court earlier this year says the woman was involved in "tumultuous divorce proceedings" with the children's father between 2016 and 2019.
She prevented the children's father from seeing them for a year during this time, but he was eventually awarded 30 per cent custody.
Following Family Court proceedings, the woman was ordered to pay the children's father a $175,000 settlement, but she failed to pay the first installment of $25,000.
The case statement says the woman was "extremely unhappy" with the Family Court orders and made it clear she would do "everything possible" to avoid being forced to give up her house in order to meet the terms of the settlement.
She was also "highly possessive of the children" and decided for those reasons to burn the house down with the children inside, prosecutors have said.
According to the case statement, the woman disconnected smoke alarms in her suburban Tuggeranong home and set fire to a couch and items in a linen cupboard before 6am on July 21 last year.
"She [then] returned to the children's bedroom and laid down crying," the document says.
The primary school-aged children are said to have woken as smoke filtered into their room. They found it difficult to breathe and cried out for water.
When a neighbour knocked on a window in an attempt to help, the woman told the children to stay calm and lie down, according to the case statement.
Firefighters who rescued the woman and children found them all unconscious as flames leapt almost as high as the ceiling.
All three required CPR and were airlifted to Sydney hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation, with the woman and boy placed in induced comas to assist their recoveries. The boy also suffered superficial burns.
Emergency services who attended the fire found no indication that anyone had tried to escape the burning house before being rescued.
The woman previously worked in the federal public service, but moves were made to terminate her employment after she was remanded in custody.
She is due back in court for sentencing on December 7.