Lauren Dickason: Alleged killer mom told psychiatrist she felt ‘under-appreciated’ and could not form a bond with her three daughters

Lauren Dickason a doctor from Pretoria has been charged murders of her two-year-old twin daughters Maya and Karlaand their six-year-old sister Liané who were found dead in their Timaru home in New Zealand. Picture: Supplied

Lauren Dickason a doctor from Pretoria has been charged murders of her two-year-old twin daughters Maya and Karlaand their six-year-old sister Liané who were found dead in their Timaru home in New Zealand. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 31, 2023


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

Murder-accused Lauren Dickason told Dr Erik Monasterio, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed her a month after she allegedly killed her three daughters, that she could not form a connection with them and often felt “under-appreciated”, the court heard on Monday.

Monasterio got involved with the Dickason murder case in September 2021 and first interviewed Lauren in October 2021, Stuff.NZ reported.

Monasterio, giving evidence on behalf of the prosecution in the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he interviewed Lauren four times, three times in October 2021 and the fourth in April 2022. He also interviewed her husband, Graham.

During their talks, Dickason told Monasterio that she found it difficult to bond or form a connection with the girls, the court heard.

“She described love for her children but had difficulty in exhibiting warmth,” Monasterio told the court.

The 42 year-old accused of murdering her daughters said she often felt rejection, which at times, escalated to anger.

When Graham focused on the children, Dickason told Monasterio that she felt alienated.

Monasterio also told the court he looked at messages Lauren had sent to friends and family.

In addition to the unstable political landscape in South Africa, riots and the Covid-19 pandemic, Monasterio told the court different parenting strategies between Lauren and Graham also caused tension.

“They yell at me and tell me to go away, and Karla actually hits me in the face”, a message from Lauren to a friend, read out aloud by Monasterio in court, said.

“Where is my Daddy a hundred times a day”, read another message, which Monasterio verbalised in court.

In July 2021, a couple of weeks before the family’s immigration, Lauren’s mental health took a decline, the expert psychiatrist explained.

Monasterio said Lauren told him that the children “ignored” her and that she felt “under-appreciated”.

Another text message also highlighted that Graham’s mother made Lauren feel inadequate, Monasterio explained to the court.

“I’m very stressed and my in-laws are putting a lot of pressure on me and making me feel like a bi**h. I say goodbye to my one best friend yesterday so my heart is sore”, said the message.

Lauren told Monasterio that two days before their move to New Zealand she had thoughts of killing the children, but did not tell Graham because he reacted with anger the other times she told him.

These thoughts came about while in isolation at Graham’s mother’s house, the court heard.

Lauren told Monasterio she thought of strangling the children and using interconnected cable ties. She reported that she threw the cable ties away and did not think about it again until the night of the offence.

Lauren told him she had no suicidal thoughts at this time and could not understand the violent thoughts.

Like Dr Susan Hatters-Friedman — who gave evidence earlier in the day — Monasterio concluded it would be best to interview a defendant as quickly as possible, if they are able to be interviewed.

During his interview with Graham, Monasterio learnt that Lauren was often anxious and this was why the children, six-year-old Liané, and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla often gravitated toward their father.

Graham also told Monasterio he noticed Lauren’s mood declined in July 2021 and that she had a tendency to become “stubborn to receive help”, the court heard.

Monasterio has not yet shared his formal opinion of Lauren, but Hatters-Friedman concluded that she was “delusional” and “psychotic” at the time of the incident.

Hatters-Friedman concluded that Lauren killed the three girls out of love.

But the defence’s argument of infanticide could come down like a house of cards, given the fact that Hatters-Friedman interviewed Lauren 18 months after the incident, while Monasterio interviewed her in the month after and was able to speak to her closer to the time of the killings.

Lauren allegedly killed her three children on the night of September 16, 2021, a couple of weeks after the family emigrated to New Zealand.


Are you or someone you know affected by mental health? If so here are some important numbers:

The SA Depression and Anxiety Group's 24-hour mental health helpline: 080-045-6789.

The SA Federation for Mental Health: 011-781-1852.