Lauren Dickason trial: ‘She believed children are better off dead,’ says defence’s forensic psychiatrist

The Dickason family moved to New Zealand in 2021. File Picture

The Dickason family moved to New Zealand in 2021. File Picture

Published Aug 7, 2023


Warning: This story contains graphic details and may be triggering to some readers

The defence counsel for the South African woman currently on trial in the Christchurch High Court in New Zealand told the court she believed her children were better off dead.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Justin Barry-Walsh was called to the stand where he confirmed the defence’s motion of insanity and infanticide were available.

Originally from Pretoria, Lauren Dickason, 42, is accused of murdering six-year-old Liané and two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla by first strangling them with cable ties, but ending their lives by smothering them with their blankets in September 2021.

Her husband, orthopaedic surgeon Graham Dickason discovered the bodies when he got home from a work function.

Barry-Walsh said he interviewed Lauren on October 10, 2021, and in an hour and a half concluded the interview because she was distressed.

He said people suffering from depression could be, at time, inclined to hide their symptoms.

Barry-Walsh testified Lauren looked very depressed during their first interview. He said she conveyed a sense of hopelessness and was crying most of the time.

He further told the court on the day of the death of her children, Lauren was “feeling paralysed” and not communicating well with her husband, Graham.

During the interview, Lauren said an email relating to the immigration forms not being enough is what broke the camel’s back.

She told Bary-Walsh she was not prepared to leave her children and said the world was such a mess, it seemed better they were dead as well.

Lauren said she was not going to leave her children behind, it seemed like the logical thing to do.

Barry-Walsh told the court the use of cable ties was the first thing Lauren though of and she reportedly told him it “felt like it was right”.

He said after waking up in disbelief that she had survived and was in hospital, when the charge sheet was brought to her hospital room she realised she had taken the lives of her children.

Lauren told the forensic psychiatrist it was “the biggest mistake” coming to New Zealand, the family should have stayed in South Africa. She claimed she told about 14 or 15 people she was not okay.

But, she told Barry-Walsh it was still good the children were dead as they were “free from the troubles and dangers of the world”.

Barry-Walsh testified Lauren still believed the children were better off dead.

The trial continues.

[email protected]