Avatar photo

Compiled by Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Lauren Dickason trial: Consequences of cable tie marks meant ‘no turning back’

Murder-accused mom Lauren Dickason was in tears as the court heard her children's killing was 'an extension of the suicidal act'.

The trial of Lauren Dickason continued in the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, with forensic psychiatrist Dr Simone McLeavey giving evidence in support of the state.

McLeavey, a consultant psychiatrist at Te Whatu Ora out of Hillmorton Hospital, was the first psychiatric expert to interview Dickason after the 2021 killings, reported NZ Herald.

The Crown expert told the court on Thursday that according to Dickason, she decided to “end the suffering” and after that “there was no turning back”.

ALSO READ: Dickason trial: Text messages reveal how SA couple’s marriage was tested

Lauren Dickason murder trial: Timaru tragedy

The 42-year-old South African doctor has admitted to strangling her three children − Liane, six, and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla − with cable ties before smothering them to death one by one at their Timaru home in Canterbury on 16 September 2021.

Her orthopaedic surgeon husband, Graham, made the gruesome discovery of their lifeless bodies later that evening on his return from a work function. Neighbours reportedly heard him cry out, “Is this really happening?”

 The Pretoria family immigrated to New Zealand and had just completed their hotel quarantine a week prior to the horrific killings.

The Dickason girls. Photo: Facebook

Insanity and infanticide defence

Dickason has pleaded not guilty to the three charges of murder with her defence arguing insanity and infanticide.

The state, however, alleges Dickason was well aware of her actions before, during and after the heinous crime. 

New Crown expert: ‘Cable ties and consequences’

On Thursday, McLeavey told the court that once Dickason started killing the girls, at no point did she consider stopping.

Because the cable ties she had used initially to asphyxiate her children girls had left marks on their bodies, she said Dickason felt she could not stop as there would be consequences, the NZ Herald reported.

She then tried to end her own life with a knife and some pills, but her husband returned home earlier than expected.

“Her motive for her suicide attempt was one of ‘self-destruction’, and the children’s killing was an extension of the suicidal act – the two were entwined,” said McLeavey.

‘Useless mother’

According to Stuff, the psychiatrist said that Dickason experienced negative self-thoughts, including that she was a “useless mother” on the day of the killings.

She told McLeavey Liane appeared sad after being picked up from school, and Karla threw a tantrum. The children tested their father’s patience and he went into another room.

Dickason formed the opinion that their family life was too much even for Graham.

Dickason killed girls ‘methodically and purposefully’

NZ Herald reported last week on prosecutor Andrew McRae’s argument that Dickason was “resentful of how the children stood in the way of her relationship with her husband” and killed them “methodically and purposefully, perhaps even clinically”.

‘She had a history’: Postpartum depression ruled out

Earlier this week, the jury has heard evidence from top forensic psychiatrist Dr Erik Monasterio, who became involved with the case in October 2021 when Dickason was sent for a mental evaluation after her arrest, Stuff reported.

On Monday, the forensic psychiatrist told the court that in his opinion, Dickason does not have an insanity or infanticide defence.

He firstly ruled out infanticide as a defence by arguing that Dickason had battled depression since she was 15 and therefore could not claim her “disease of the mind” was connected to childbirth.

“She had a history of these symptoms before pregnancy … the depressive disorder … occurred well before the defendant’s pregnancy … the depression was already there before she gave birth, so it cannot be called postpartum,” he was quoted as saying by the NZ Herald.

“It is likely that the effects of pregnancy and adaptation to the demands of motherhood and the care of three young children contributed too, but did not fully account for the defendant’s major depressive disorder at the time of the children’s birth.”

Dickason able to navigate complexities of immigration

He then moved to dispel the insanity defence.

According to Newshub, Monasterio reasoned that throughout her depression, Dickason was able to deal with the complexities of immigrating and getting the family to New Zealand.

She organised the shipping container, packed her children’s bags with meticulous care and even thought to bring a vacuum cleaner along.

In Timaru, she bought stationery, opened bank accounts and corresponded with friends back in South Africa. 

ALSO READ: Lauren Dickason searched ‘drugs to overdose kids’ on Google before ‘killing’ her children

‘Altruistic motive’?

During Wednesday’s court proceedings, Dickason’s defence counsel Anne Toohey said the murder accused indicated to other experts that she may have had an altruistic motive.

According to NZ Herald, Monasterio told Toohey that evidence presented to him during his evaluation sessions − which totalled nine hours − did not suggest that she killed her daughters out of love.

The trial continues and is expected to run for at least another week.

NOW READ: ‘Loving mother’ Lauren Dickason tucked children in with soft toys after killing them – lawyer

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits