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Triple murderer Lauren Dickason to be sentenced today

Triple murderer Lauren Dickason will be sentenced today for killing her three young daughters.

Legal experts told 1News it was difficult to predict the nature of the sentence given the complexities of the case – including the offender’s mental health – but concluded a life sentence would be expected.

The South African mother was found guilty of the murder in Timaru of her daughters Liané and two-year-old twins Karla and Maya in their beds.

The mother killed her daughters in her Timaru home in September 2021.

Julia Tolmie, a law professor at the University of Auckland, said the sentence would be a balancing act.

“The judge in this case will do a difficult balancing act of recognizing the horrific nature of the murder and responding compassionately to the mental health issues that would have motivated the offender,” he said.

Ten months ago, a jury reached a majority verdict after four weeks of harrowing evidence and 15 hours of deliberations at the High Court in Christchurch.

A jury reached a majority verdict after 15 hours of deliberations at the High Court in Christchurch, having heard four weeks of evidence against the 42-year-old doctor.

The doctor, now 43, her husband and three young children had been released from managed isolation just five days before the murders, after arriving from South Africa.

Graham Dickason found the bodies of Liané, six, and twins Karla and Maya, two, in their beds at his temporary rental property on the night of September 16, 2021.

The father was due to start work at Timaru Hospital as an orthopedic surgeon and had been attending a work function.

While he was away, his wife gathered the girls in a bedroom and told them they were going to make necklaces, before suffocating them to death.

In her police interview after the murders, she was asked: “Did they tell you something, Lauren?”

She replied: “Not the two little ones, but the oldest one was very angry and wants to know why I am doing this to them, because I am the best mom and she loves me.”

As her husband was comforted outside the house that night, waiting for the police to arrive, she lamented, “She has done this to hurt me.”

Lauren Dickason has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and infanticide over the deaths of her three daughters in Timaru.

Dickason relied on the defenses of insanity and infanticide, and his lawyers argued that he had killed his daughters simply out of love. Defense lawyer Kerryn Beaton told the jury: “This is precisely the type of case the infanticide law was designed to handle.”

“The girls’ deaths had nothing to do with anger and resentment, but rather what was clearly a serious mental illness.”

But the Crown argued the deaths were caused by Dickason’s anger and loss of control.

She argued that any disturbance of her mind as a result of childbirth was “long gone”, and the explanation of the “altruistic motive” only emerged after treatment at Hillmorton Hospital, a month after the murders.

After the guilty verdicts, Lauren Dickason’s parents, who attended her trial every day, issued this statement: “This was not our daughter, but rather a debilitating mental illness that resulted in a terrible tragedy, the details of which you already know well. “. .

“Our beloved Lianè, Karla and Maya were taken from this life to another as a result of this paralyzing illness.

The trial is coming to an end after four weeks in court.

“We would like to thank the people in New Zealand, South Africa and around the world who have been so understanding of the effects of postpartum depression and mental illness, and who have given us incredible support.

“The New Zealand government agencies that have interacted with our family have reached out to us in the most generous and compassionate way. We thank the good people of New Zealand for that.

“There are no winners in this tragedy. We would like to encourage families and individuals around the world to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression as soon as possible, both for yourself and for your family and close friends.

“If treated early and managed correctly, people can experience a full recovery. The person suffering from depression and those closest to them may not be able to recognize the signs or how serious postpartum depression can be.”

Since the murders, Dickason has been in Hillmorton Mental Health Hospital, and after the verdict, Judge Mander made an order under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Disabled Persons) Act for a health adviser to prepare a report “with “the purpose of assisting the court in determining the type and duration of sentence that may be imposed.”

Anyone convicted of murder faces a possible sentence of life imprisonment, unless, in very rare cases, it is considered manifestly unfair due to the circumstances of the crime and the perpetrator.

Professor Julia Tolmie made her assessment of the case.

She told 1News: “A lot of mental health motivated murders are really horrible murders and it’s hard to let go of the horrible nature of the murder.

“On the one hand, we have a triple homicide, three young children who are victims, multiple attempted murders, and the person who commits the murder is their mother, someone who you would expect to kill, protect and care for them.

“On the other hand, we have a mother who is clearly mentally ill and has killed children whom she cared and loved dearly.

“They are babies for whom she underwent 17 in vitro fertilization treatments. The fact that she could not overcome the madness does not mean that she was mentally well at the time she killed her children.”

Six victim impact statements from close relatives of the girls, including their grieving father and grandparents, are expected to be read in court today.

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