Graham and Lauren Dickason had different parenting styles which sometimes caused tension in the household. Lauren also sometimes felt “rejected” and “alienated” when Graham focused his attention on their children Liané, Maya and Karla.
Those feelings would then turn to anger, the court heard on Monday.
“They shout at me and tell me to leave. Karla punches me in the face,” reads a message Lauren sent to a friend. That message was one of several that were read out today in the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Where is my Daddy a hundred times a day”, said another, referring to the children who constantly asked for Graham.
On Monday, the state called the forensic psychiatrist dr. Erik Monasterio called to testify. Monasterio became involved in the case in September 2021 at the request of the state. He has since conducted four nine-hour interviews with Lauren.
Three of the interviews took place in October 2021, and the fourth in April 2022.
During these interviews, Lauren told Monasterio that after the birth of Liané (6), she struggled to form a bond with her first child. She also struggled with it after the two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla, were born.
“She described love for her children, but struggled to show warmth,” Monasterio explained in court.
Lauren also told Monasterio that she made great sacrifices in her marriage by allowing Graham to go on hunting trips and other trips.
‘First better and then much worse’
According to Monasterio, it is clear from mobile phone messages that things went better with Lauren’s mental health in 2020, so much so that she stopped her medication in March 2021 – six months before the death of her three children.
Lauren admitted to Monasterio that she felt “the best in 12 years” at that point. Nevertheless, she struggled with the children and by July 2021, Lauren’s mood was heavy again.
Lauren admitted to Monasterio that the children ignored and did not appreciate her during that time. Her mother-in-law apparently also made her feel like an “inadequate” mother.
“My in-laws put a lot of pressure on me and make me feel like a bitch,” reads a message Dickason sent to a friend during this time.
The dark thoughts about her harming the children began precisely while Lauren, Graham and the children stayed in isolation with Graham’s mother shortly before they emigrated.
It was during this time that she thought about killing her children with cable ties. However, the thoughts disappeared after 10 to 15 minutes and she did not think about cable ties again until the day of the murders, Monasterio explained to the court.
Monasterio also interviewed Graham after the children’s deaths.
During this interview, Graham said that his wife was often tense and anxious, which led to the children seeking him out.
In July 2021, Graham noticed that Lauren was not doing well.
However, according to Graham, his wife had a tendency to withdraw into herself. She was also too “stubborn” to receive help.
The trial resumes on Tuesday.
Sources: NZ Herald, Stuff.co.nz