Lauren Dickason guilty of murdering her three girls

By 1news.co.nz

Lauren Dickason has been found guilty of murder following the deaths of her three young daughters in their Timaru home in September 2021.

Lauren Dickason after being found guilty (Source: Supplied /1news)

A jury reached a majority verdict after 15 hours of deliberations at the High Court in Christchurch, having heard four weeks of evidence against the 42-year-old doctor.

Alongside her husband and children, she had only been released from managed isolation five days before the killings, after arriving from South Africa.

Dickason, who was standing in the dock as the verdict was read out, remained calm as the verdict was reached.

Her parents, Malcolm and Wendy Fawkes, who have attended every day of their daughter’s trial, were sitting in the public gallery.

Some members of the jury could be heard crying out loud as they left the court after delivering their verdict.

Dickason’s mother was crying in the public gallery after the verdict was read out. Other members of the public hugged her and her husband after the verdict.

Defence lawyers Kerryn Beaton and Anne Toohey were both crying too.

Judge acknowledges jury

Justice Mander told the jury it had been a gruelling trial involving very hard issues and they could be proud of the way they had carried out their duties.

“You have had to deal with distressing evidence and I acknowledge that this trial has likely taken a toll on you personally.”

‘An awful tragedy’

Dickason’s parents released a statement shortly after the verdict was delivered.

“Post-partum depression is a terrible thing, as has been shown by what happened to our family on 16 September 2021,” they said.

“This was not our daughter, but a debilitating mental illness which resulted in an awful tragedy, the details of which you are by now well aware.

“Our beloved Lianè, Karla and Maya were taken from this life to another as a result of this crippling disease.

“We would like to thank the people of New Zealand, South Africa and from around the world who have been so understanding of the effects of post-partum depression and mental illness, and who have given us incredible support.

“The New Zealand Government agencies who have interacted with our family have reached out to us in a most generous and compassionate way. We thank the good people of New Zealand for that.

“There are no winners in this tragedy. We would like to encourage families and individuals around the world to be aware of the symptoms of post-partum depression as early as possible, both for yourselves as well as close family and friends around you. If treated early and managed correctly, people can experience a full recovery. The person experiencing depression and those closest to them may not be able to recognize the signs or how serious post-partum depression can become.”

Lauren Dickason's lawyer Anne Toohey
Lauren Dickason’s lawyer Anne Toohey (Source: Supplied)

Father discovered girls dead

Graham found the bodies of six-year-old Liané and two-year-old twins Karla and Maya in their beds at their temporary rental property on the evening of September 16.

He was due to start work at Timaru Hospital as an orthopaedic surgeon and had been attending a work function.

While he was out, his wife gathered the girls in a bedroom, telling them they were going to make necklaces, before smothering them to death.

Dickason was relying on the defences of insanity and infanticide, her lawyers arguing she had killed her daughters purely out of love.

“The girls’ deaths have nothing to do with anger and resentment and everything to do with what was clearly, a severe mental illness.”

The Crown argued the deaths were caused by Dickason’s anger and a loss of control. It said any disturbance of her mind as a result of childbirth “was long gone”, and the explanation of the “altruistic motive” only arose after treatment at Hillmorton Hospital a month after the killings.

Justice Mander said there were four verdicts available to the jury of eight women and four men.

“Your verdicts will be ones of either guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of infanticide, act of murder proven but not criminally responsible on account of insanity, act of infanticide proven but not criminally responsible due to insanity,” he said.

Dickason will be remanded in a hospital or secure facility for assessment ahead of sentencing. Judge Mander said being remanded in prison was not appropriate at this time.

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