“Something, something just snapped last night…now I have three children who are dead.”
That’s how Dr. Lauren Dickason told detective Michael Kneebone of the New Zealand police about 20 hours after the death of her daughters, Liané (6), Maya and Karla (both 2).
A video of Dickason’s hour-long interview was played to the jury in the Christchurch High Court on Tuesday before Kneebone was cross-examined about Lauren’s fitness to be questioned at the time – so soon after her children’s deaths.
Kneebone asked Dickason during the interview what she had done to the children. “That’s the hard part, Lauren, but you’re doing really well. Tell us what happened last night.”
To this Dickason replied: “Basically the children were wild again.
“They jumped on the couches. They weren’t listening to what I was trying to tell them, so I got some cable ties from the garage and put them around their necks.”
Lauren told the little girls that they were going to make necklaces.
“I just couldn’t anymore. I was so tired of yelling, saying no.
“I put them all in one bedroom so they were together, but in the end I basically had to suffocate them.”
Kneebone then asks how Lauren suffocated the children.
“I basically took a towel and held it over their faces,” was her reply.
Lauren also told how that night she listened to see if the children were still breathing and felt their pulses before she put them in their beds. It all happened in one bedroom in the family’s home in Timaru, reports Stuff.co.nz.
Lauren then tells the investigating officer that she was already under a lot of pressure in South Africa, but that things became overwhelming after her family moved to New Zealand and had to spend two weeks in isolation due to the then Covid-19 pandemic.
She also admits to Kneebone that she has thought about harming the children before.
She says that the children were, however, terribly active on the evening in question after her husband, Graham, left home that evening to go out to dinner with colleagues.
“They don’t listen to me at all.”
She admits that after suffocating them, she knew they were dead. Lauren then tried to kill herself with a knife, but according to her none of the knives in the house were sharp enough.
She then drank the first kind of medication she could get her hands on.
“I wanted to die,” she told Kneebone during the interview.
‘I think there’s something wrong with me’
In the interview with Kneebone, Lauren admitted that sometimes she thought there was something wrong with her.
“One thing I told Graham, from the time they were born, was that mums always feel this instant love for their children and I never really experienced that with my children… I didn’t know what people were talking about.
“I think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel it, and I did the best I could.”
‘Emigration was a mistake’
Lauren says in the interview to Kneebone that after the emigration she felt that she and Graham had made a mistake and that she was under a lot of pressure, to the extent that she only slept for two hours at night.
She also lost 10 kg due to the stress she was under at that stage.
According to Dickason, she had good times with the children in South Africa. The family had a large back garden with a trampoline and a climbing frame. However, the situation in South Africa at that stage – there were, among other things, violent riots – made them decide to emigrate.
The family hoped this would be the solution, but New Zealand was very different to South Africa, and she felt she and Graham had made a “very bad decision” by moving.
According to Dickason, her dark thoughts began to change during the family’s time in isolation.
“I don’t know where those thoughts (of harming her children) suddenly started coming from.”
Dickason admitted to Kneebone that she stopped taking her medication before her family moved to New Zealand, as she felt she could do without it.
The trial resumes on Wednesday.