A woman charged with murdering her three young daughters at their Timaru home has been excused from today’s court appearance as her mental health assessments continue.
A trial date has been set but she is yet to enter a plea.
Lauren Anne Dickason, 40, was charged with murdering her three daughters – Liané, 6, and twin sisters Maya and Karla, 2.
She first appeared in the Timaru District Court on September 18, two days after allegedly murdering the children.
The specific details of the alleged murder have been suppressed.
Dickason was remanded in custody to a forensic psychiatric ward at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch.
There, she underwent a mental health assessment ahead of her first appearance in the High Court today.
Dickason’s appearance in person this morning before Justice Rachel Dunningham was excused.
She was due to appear via an audio visual link from Hillmorton Hospital but the court heard more time was needed for her health assessment.
The case is being heard in the High Court at Timaru but the hearing itself was today facilitated from the Christchurch Justice Precinct.
Dickason’s lawyer Kerryn Beaton QC sought a further remand for the alleged killer at Hillmorton Hospital.
A forensic psychiatrist has been booked to assess her further this weekend.
A trial date for March 2023 was set, even though no pleas have been entered at this stage.
Dickason’s case will be called again on October 15.
A new start ends suddenly in tragedy
The Dickason family arrived in Timaru just a week before the children died on September 16.
They moved here from Pretoria in South Africa and spent their mandatory time in managed isolation before they were released to start their new life.
Graham Dickason is an orthopedic surgeon and had a job with the South Canterbury District Health Board.
It is understood he had been at a work function with colleagues and arrived home to find the grisly scene.
A neighbour told the Herald the morning after the alleged murders that she heard the sounds of sobbing and moaning at about 9.40pm.
Another neighbour found the distressed father and called 111.
Police then converged on the house.
Lauren Dickason was unresponsive and in a critical condition when her husband arrived home.
She was taken to Timaru Hospital for treatment and was stable enough by Friday night to speak with police.
She was charged with murder soon after.
Lauren Dickason is also a doctor who worked in the orthopedic area.
A week after the alleged murders, a vigil was outside the house by members of the community.
The event was in memory of the girls and to show the Dickason family support and love.
Hundreds of people attended and words by Graham Dickason, his parents and his in-laws were read.
A similar event was held simultaneously in Pretoria.
The message penned by Graham Dickason was the first the public had heard from the family since the tragedy unfolded.
“It is a loss I will carry with me for the rest of my life … my words are few,” he said of the deaths of his “precious angels”.
“In this time of terrible tragedy and adversity I can only ask for prayer… for strength and for healing.
“Please also pray for my lovely Lauren for I honestly believe she is a victim in this as well.
“I have already forgiven her and I urge you in your own time to do the same … it is the key to healing this loss we have all experienced.”
Family in Pretoria shared details of a second memorial they held last week.
They spent time at a local park where they had put up huge photos of the slain sisters along with descriptions of them.
“A beautiful little girl inside and out. You were such a chatterbox with an infectious laugh,” Liané’s read.
“You loved cuddles, you enjoyed baking – even though you ate a lot of the mixture before it was baked.
“You were so creative and loved your stickers and sparkles.
“You were kind and always cared deeply for those around you.
“You were a loving sister with a soft heart.”
Karla was born with a cleft lip and her grandparents said last week she did not have the best start in life – but she overcame that and was brave and an explorer.
At the family service she was described as “a beautiful little girl who was feisty, independent and strong”.
“Yet, kind and caring,” her photo caption read.
“You loved a cuddle and loved early mornings.
“Your smile left an impact on each person that met you.
“You were such a cheerful and happy little soul, your little personality was contagious.”
Maya was remembered as “a beautiful gentle little girl who was always smiling”.
“And a real little charmer who knew just what look to give us to get one more sweetie.
“Playful to the core, so happy and cheerful – you loved tea parties and perfected the pinkie finger .”
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.
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