On Monday, the trial against South African doctor Lauren Dickason began in New Zealand. She is accused of murdering her three children in their home in Timaru.
The children, Liané (6 years old) and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla are said to have been strangled and smothered before Dickason attempted to take her own life. Disturbing details on how Lauren Dickason, 41, allegedly killed her three children shortly after her husband went on a night out have emerged in a New Zealand court.
The court heard that, long before the murders, Dickason searched the internet for ways to kill children. She is accused of strangling and smothering her children on 16 September 2021 while her husband, Graham Dickason, was out for dinner with colleagues. She allegedly killed the children after they made her angry by jumping on the sofa.
Lauren appeared for the start of her trial in the High Court in Christchurch on Monday. According to the New Zealand publication Stuff, prosecutor Andrew McRae said during the first day of court proceedings that the children were asphyxiated by way of cable ties applied around their necks. When this method failed, Lauren used blankets to smother them. She then attempted to take her own life, McRae reportedly said.
News24 previously reported that the family had moved to Timaru from Pretoria a few weeks before the triple murders. Graham had got a job as an orthopaedic surgeon at Timaru Hospital.
During his opening arguments, McRae reportedly said Lauren “harboured anger and resentment” towards her children at times. He said that phone messages, which would be used as evidence, showed that Lauren had, at times, threatened to “smack”, “suffocate” and “murder” her children. She also reportedly searched the internet for information on how to overdose children.
On the night of the murders, Lauren reportedly waited for her husband to leave before fetching cable ties from the garage and telling the girls they were “going to make necklaces”. When she realised that would not be enough to kill the girls, she smothered Karla, then Liané and finally, Maya. She then reportedly placed their bodies in their beds and used bedding to cover them.
She reportedly attempted to take her own life, using a knife and an overdose of drugs.
Graham returned home to find his wife disorientated in the kitchen. When she responded that it was “too late”, he realised that something was wrong and went to the girls. He reportedly cut the cable ties and listened for a heartbeat and breathing, but couldn’t hear anything.
In a panic, he called a colleague he’d been out with and asked for help. Emergency services were called shortly after.
At the heart of the case is the argument around Lauren’s mental state at the time of the murders. McRae argued that while she was likely suffering from major depression, she knew what she was doing and “acted clinically”.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Lauren had struggled to fall pregnant and had gone through several rounds of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). She had miscarried before giving birth to Liané. She had struggled with mental health after Liané’s birth, the court heard and had later conceived the twins during another round of IVF.
Lauren had reported again struggling with mental health in the lead-up to the move to New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Herald, she reportedly told police that the children were “wild” and did not listen to her, which had “triggered” her.
The murders reportedly occurred only 20 minutes after Graham left the house.
Lauren pleaded not guilty to the charges.
News24 previously reported that Graham said he had forgiven his wife after a letter he wrote was read to hundreds of people attending a candlelight vigil outside the family home.
The trial resumes on Tuesday.