DISCLAIMER: Not for sensitive readers
Disturbing details on how South African doctor 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 had searched the internet for ways to kill children.
She is accused of strangling and smothering Liané, six, and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla on 16 September 2021 while her husband, Graham Dickason, had gone 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 the neck. When this method failed, Lauren smothered them with their blankets. 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 at times “harboured anger and resentment” towards her children.
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 made internet searches while in South Africa for 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 covered them with bedding.
Lauren then reportedly attempted to take her own life with 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 with scissors 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 whether Lauren was insane or mentally disturbed 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.
She reportedly killed Karla first because the child had been “particularly mean” to her in the lead-up to the night of the murders.
The murders reportedly occurred only 20 minutes after Graham left the house.
Lauren has 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.