In a case that has sent shock waves across the globe, a South African mother, Lauren Dickason, has gone on trial in New Zealand for the murder of her three young daughters.
According to New Zealand news website, stuff.co.nz, prosecutor Andrew McRae opened the Crown’s case on Monday where he revealed the shocking circumstances of how on the evening of September 16, 2021 Dickason killed her three daughters, Liané, 6, and two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla.
The three children were “asphyxiated by way of cable ties applied to the neck,” he said.
The family had recently arrived in Timaru, New Zealand in August 2021 to begin their new lives after Dickason’s husband, Graham Dickason, an orthopaedic surgeon, had gotten a job at Timaru Hospital.
Dickason herself had worked as a doctor in Pretoria before immigrating.
They had just come out of mandatory Covid-19 isolation and had been in their new home for only a week when the tragedy occurred.
According to the stuff.co.nz who are reporting extensively on the trial, the court heard that when the method of asphyxiation had failed, Dickason smothered her three children with their own blankets.
The prosecution argues that these actions were not the result of a disturbed mind, but a deliberate act of murder.
The Prosecution's Case
According to the prosecution, Dickason, driven by frustration and resentment, committed the heinous act after the children had been misbehaving.
They argue that Dickason's actions were calculated and deliberate, not the result of a mental disturbance. The prosecution's case hinges on the argument that Dickason acted out of anger, was lucid, and knew exactly what she was doing.
The Defence's Argument
However, the defence, led by Kerryn Beaton KC, offered a different perspective, according to stuff.co.nz.
They argue that Dickason was a loving mother and wife who was suffering from a major depressive episode.
She had a history of depression, dating back to her teenage years, and had experienced postpartum depression.
According to Beaton, Dickason was so unwell that she believed she had to kill herself and take her daughters with her.
A History of Mental Health Issues
Dickason's mental health struggles date back to her teenage years. She had been diagnosed with depression and had experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her daughters.
Despite her mental health struggles, she sought help and continued to show love to her children until the tragic night.
The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, will delve into the complex issues of mental health, postpartum depression, and the legal definitions of insanity and infanticide. The jury will have to consider whether Dickason was incapable of understanding the moral wrongness of her actions due to her mental disorder.