A forensic psychiatrist testified for the state on Tuesday that Lauren Dickason did not suffer from psychosis or delusion when she killed her three young children Liané, Maya and Karla in September 2021.
According to the psychiatrist involved, her mental disorder was also not serious enough that she was unable to realize that she was acting morally wrong.
“In my opinion, the accused does not have an insanity defence,” said Dr. Erik Monasterio said in the High Court in Christchurch on Tuesday. Monasterio was the third psychiatrist to evaluate Dickason after the children’s deaths.
Monasterio testified today that Dickason undoubtedly suffered from severe depression, but that there is no evidence to suggest that the depression can be attributed to the birth of her children as Dickason already suffered from depression as a teenager.
“How can that be? Has the depression always been there?
“Was it because of the birth of her children? Was it from lactation? The evidence doesn’t suggest that… it was from Covid-19 lockdowns, unrest in South Africa… and other stressors… I agree that she was depressed… but I don’t agree that it can be attributed to the effects of pregnancy.”
Monasterio conceded that Dickason’s depression in the run-up to the children’s deaths was “at the worst end of the scale”.
“The task is to determine how impaired she was at the time of the offence,” he explained, however.
“She was able to make all the arrangements to travel to New Zealand … it required consistent and ongoing correspondence with government organizations … despite that, despite the depression, she met all those requirements.”
According to Monasterio, Dickason maintained a high level of cognitive function until the day of her children’s death. “I therefore conclude that she was not cognitively impaired at the time of the alleged offence.
“In my view, since the defendant maintained awareness and acted systematically … there is no evidence that she did not understand the consequences of the action at the material time.”
Dr. Susan Hatters-Friedman, an internationally known expert in forensic and reproductive psychology, testified again on Monday for the defense that Dickason was able to carry out the “minimum activities” before the children’s deaths.
State prosecutor Andrew McRae asked Hatters-Friedman if Dickason was functioning at a high level – she got out of bed, took her children to school, prepared their lunch and did their hair impeccably.
“Of course, although I would not say that the functioning is at a high level for someone who previously worked as a doctor,” Hatters-Friedman told the court.
Monasterio said on Tuesday that in his opinion there is also no clear indication of an altruistic motive.
“This is an offense which apparently required some pre-planning…she had previously thought about the method she used to strangle the three children…”.
Monasterio’s testimony in the Christchurch High Court continues.
Sources: Stuff.co.nz, NZ Herald