Lauren Dickason, a South African who was found guilty in New Zealand of murdering her three young daughters, will be sentenced in December.
Judge Cameron Mander confirmed on Friday that Dickason will be sentenced on December 19 for the murder of Liané (6) and the two-year-old twins Maya and Karla, reports the NZ Herald.
Upon Dickason’s conviction in August, Judge Mander ordered a number of pre-sentence reports to be drawn up relating to Dickason’s mental health, its treatment and where she should be held.
Dickason has been held in a psychiatric unit at Hillmorton Hospital since her arrest.
Dickason’s parents, Malcolm and Wendy Fawkes, as well as their extended family, said after her conviction that “it was not our daughter, but a crippling mental illness that gave rise to a terrible tragedy, the details of which you are already well aware of”. .
Dickason now faces life in prison for each of the murder convictions. She was found guilty in the High Court in Christchurch on 16 August after the jury reached a majority verdict.
On the evening of 16 September 2021 – shortly after the family immigrated to New Zealand and settled in Timaru – Dickason suffocated her three daughters with cable ties and then with their blankets, after which she tried to take her own life.
Graham Dickason returned from a work dinner that evening and found Lauren in the kitchen of their home in Timaru. Graham remembers going to the little girls’ rooms. They lay in their beds and were covered with blankets. He lifted the blankets and saw the cable ties around their necks. Their little faces were pale. Graham hastily cut the cable ties around his daughters’ necks with scissors, but they were already dead.
Dickason admitted to killing the children in September 2021, but denied it was murder. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her and claims in her defense that she was mentally ill during the murders and is not accountable.
During the week-long trial that began on July 17, every aspect of Dickason’s years-long battle with depression, her infertility, family life and cell phone records were analyzed in court.
The state argued that Dickason committed the murders in a moment of anger, that she had previously thought about killing her children and that she “snapped” on the night of the murders when the girls misbehaved. The acts were purposefully and deliberately committed, the state argued.
The defense maintained during the trial that Dickason was a loving mother who had never abused or neglected her children, that she was severely depressed and thought she was doing the right thing. Dickason had symptoms unique to postpartum depression, including thoughts of hurting the children and not feeling like a competent mother, the defense argued in its closing arguments.