Mother ‘resentful’ of kids before she allegedly murdered them – Crown


The High Court murder trial of Lauren Dickason has started in Christchurch today, with the Crown telling the jury it was a calculated crime and she snapped out of anger when her children misbehaved.

Lauren Anne Dickason in the High Court at Christchurch on 17 July 2023. Photo: Pool / NZME/ George Heard

The 43-year-old is accused of killing six-year-old Liané, and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla on September 16 2021. She had been held in custody at a psychiatric unit at Hillmorton Hospital since the charges were laid.

She has entered pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity and infanticide.

Dickason stood in the dock with a psychiatric nurse at her side. She appeared to wince and close her eyes as the names of her little girls and the charges she faced were read to the court. She cried throughout the Crown’s opening.

The family had emigrated from South Africa and were released from managed isolation on September 11 2021.

On the evening of September 16, her husband, Dr Graham Dickason, went to a work function.

After he left, Crown prosecutor Andrew McRae said she made two attempts to take the girls lives, in the end suffocating Liané, first. She then allegedly killed Karla and Maya.

“There is no doubt in this case that the defendant was responsible for killing her children,” McRae said.

“The issue in this case is whether Ms Dickason intended to kill her children out of frustration, anger for their behaviour, or resentment for how they got in the way of her relationship, or whether her state of mind at the time was that she must have been insane or have the partial defence of infanticide available to her.”

McRae read the jury a number of texts to friends, starting from before the twins were born, many alluding to how hard she found it having three children, and that she resented the relationship they had with her husband.

One message, when they were still in South Africa after a hard night with her eldest, said: “I’m going to send her to school otherwise I would strangle her”.

“The Crown says she had thoughts of killing her children long before the events of September 16,” McRae said.

He also told the jury she had also made a number of searches about how to administer an overdose to children.

It’s accepted she was suffering from a major depressive disorder, but the Crown said she knew what she was doing was morally wrong.

“The flip side argument is, the Crown says, whether in fact there was anger here and whether she methodically killed all three of her children. The Crown say there is no medical defence here and that evidence will firmly point towards murder,” McRae said.

Justice Cameron Mander told the jury: “One of the important issues that is anticipated that you will have to address in this trial is the defence of insanity, in respect of that issue, the onus of proof lies with the defendant, to show in what is called the balance of probabilities that she was insane at the time the childrens’ death.”

“What that means is the defendant is required to establish that it was more likely than not, more probable than not that Mrs Dickason was insane at the time the children were killed.”

The trial is expected to run for three weeks, before a jury of eight women and four men.

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