A fourth forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Barry-Walsh, moved into the witness box of the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Monday to give his opinion on Lauren Dickason’s mental health at the time of her three children, Liané (6), Maya and Karla (2). ‘s death.
This expert says Dickason has a defense of insanity and infanticide (infanticide). Barry-Walsh also conducted several interviews with Dickason after the family tragedy and testified for the defence.
According to Barry-Walsh, Dickason told him a few weeks after the children’s death in September 2021 that she wanted to take her own life and that she was not prepared to leave her children alone on earth.
“The world was such a mess, it seemed better if they were dead too… I wasn’t going to leave them behind… it seemed like the logical thing to do,” Dickason’s words were according to Barry- Walsh.
He further testified that Dickason appeared “depressed, very depressed” during their first interview on 10 October 2021.
“She conveyed a sense of hopelessness” and mostly cried.
Dickason told Barry-Walsh during the first interview that on the day of the children’s deaths (September 16, 2021) she “felt paralyzed” and could not communicate well with her husband, Graham.
That particular afternoon, during her family’s visit to a park in Timaru, Dickason saw a “slippery” man taking pictures of the children and it made her feel “hopeless”. It was an indication to Dickason in that moment that New Zealand was not safe – and that was precisely the reason why her family immigrated there.
To top it off, Dickason also received an email that the family’s current emigration forms were insufficient. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Barry-Walsh explained from the witness stand.
Dickason told him that emigration was a mistake and that they should have stayed in South Africa instead. She also told Barry-Walsh that before the emigration she had told 14 or 15 people that she was not okay.
Dickason also told Barry-Walsh that it was “a good thing” that the children were dead, because they were “free from the problems and dangers of the world”.
She still believed the children were better off dead, Barry-Walsh explained.
This evidence is not consistent with that of state witnesses Dr. Erik Monasterio and Dr. Simone McLeavey doesn’t.
McLeavey insisted under cross-examination today that Dickason was not insane when she killed her three children. She also does not believe Dickason suffered from psychosis or delusion.
Dickason “was a loving mother … but there was a loss of control”, McLeavey said.
Dickason’s legal representative, Kerryn Beaton, wanted to know during cross-examination with McLeavey whether the events would have taken place if Dickason was not mentally ill.
“I can’t speak hypothetically… what I do know is that murders can occur in the absence of serious mental illness,” was McLeavey’s response to this.
Beaton argues that at the time of the children’s deaths, a severely depressed Dickason herself no longer wanted to live and felt that she must take her children into eternity with her.
Dickason’s trial resumed on Monday after it had to be postponed on Friday due to an ill juror.
The trial is currently in its fourth week. It would initially last only three weeks, but is expected to continue for at least another week.
Sources: Stuff.co.nz, NZ Herald