Mother Found Guilty Of Murdering Her Three Daughters In New Zealand

A South African mother, Lauren Anne Dickason, has been found guilty by a New Zealand jury of murdering her three daughters. The defense cited severe depression, while prosecution highlighted disturbing online searches.

Harnur Watta
Aug 17, 2023 17:28 IST
Image credits: New Zealand Herald

Image credits: New Zealand Herald

In a courtroom scene that sent shockwaves through the nation, a New Zealand jury rendered a verdict on Wednesday, finding a South African woman, Lauren Anne Dickason, guilty of the heart-wrenching murder of her three young daughters. 

After a month-long trial that captivated the nation's attention, the verdict highlighted the complexity of the case and the anguish of a community grappling with an unthinkable tragedy, as reported by Sky News.

The Unfathomable Crime

The details of the case were undeniably disturbing.The 42-year-old mother had committed an unspeakable act, strangling her two-year-old twins and their six-year-old sister in September 2021. 


This horrifying incident occurred at the family's residence in Timaru, a picturesque city on New Zealand's South Island.The chilling incident took place just a month after the family had embarked on a new chapter, having recently migrated from South Africa. Tragically, the her father was absent from their home at the time, dining with colleagues.

The Defense and Prosecution

While the accused admitted to the crime, she put forward a defence centred around her mental state. Dickason claimed to be grappling with severe depression, asserting that her actions were driven by profound mental disturbance, leaving her unaware of her actions at the time. 


In her defence, Dickason's lawyer, Kerryn Beaton KC, argued, "Mothers don't kill their children the way that Lauren did just because they're angry, or resentful, or stressed or anxious. So the girls' deaths have nothing to do with anger and resentment, and everything to do with what was clearly a severe mental illness." 

According to the New Zealand Herald, Dickason's defence painted her as a loving mother who spiralled into post-partum depression and was in such a low place that she had no choice but to kill her children.

"In her mind, she was killing them out of love - she was killing herself and she didn't want to leave the children... she was so sure this was the right thing to do she persisted," defence attorney Anne Toohey said.


This perspective shed light on the intricate web of emotions and struggles that led to this unimaginable tragedy, as revealed during the trial.

However, the prosecution presented a counter-narrative. 

While acknowledging Dickason's battle with depression, they maintained that her mental state did not offer sufficient grounds for a medical defence. Disturbingly, evidence emerged from Dickason's online search history, hinting at darker intentions. 


Her searches included inquiries about the "most effective overdose in kids" and comments about wanting to harm her children. These grim revelations painted a disturbing picture of the thought process leading up to the tragic events.

Following the trial, a jury rejected the legal defence under the Crimes Act 1961's insanity and infanticide law. The act provides that if a woman causes the death of any of her children under the age of ten and the "balance of her mind was disturbed" at the time of the incident, she is only liable to a prison sentence of up to three years if found guilty.

The Heartbreaking Verdict and Beyond


Following careful consideration of the evidence and the profound emotional toll, the majority of the jury concluded that Dickason was guilty on all three counts of murder, according to a report by AFP. 

This heart-wrenching decision echoed the sentiments of a nation left grappling with grief and disbelief. The court's decision holds significant consequences, as Dickason now faces the possibility of a life sentence, confronting the gravity of her actions.

Detective Inspector Scott Anderson, in a poignant statement released after the verdict, expressed the collective sorrow of the community, saying, "Our sympathies extend to the families who will never get to see Liane, Maya, and Karla grow up." 


In the wake of the verdict, Judge Cameron Mander ordered that Dickason be remanded to the custody of a hospital psychiatric unit until her sentencing. This decision underscores the intricate interplay between justice and understanding mental health, as society grapples with the complexities of addressing such a profoundly tragic case.

Suggested Reading: Is New FDA Approved Postpartum Depression Pill Revolutionary?


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