Timaru tragedy: Mum accused of murdering three young daughters appears in court

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Sep 2021, 11:24AM
Police stand guard at the scene of the Timaru triple homicide. (Photo / George Heard)
Police stand guard at the scene of the Timaru triple homicide. (Photo / George Heard)

Timaru tragedy: Mum accused of murdering three young daughters appears in court

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Sep 2021, 11:24AM

The mother of three little girls found dead in a Timaru house has appeared in court charged with their murders. 

Lauren Anne Dickason, 40, was arrested and charged last night and appeared in the Timaru District Court this morning. 

She is charged with murdering Liane Dickason, 6, and her twin sisters Maya and Karla, who were 2. 

Court documents do not disclose any further information about the alleged murder - simply the three charges of murder, the accused's name and details and the date of the alleged crime. 

Dickason initially sought name suppression, but after strong opposition from the media on the basis of open justice, extreme public interest and the fact her name has been widely published already, she withdrew her application. 

No members of the public - including support people - were allowed in the building under Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions. 

Only the accused, judge, lawyers, media and police including the officer in charge of the case - Detective Inspector Scott Anderson - were present in the courtroom. 

The woman was led into the dock from the court cells just after 10am, wearing a light grey hoodie, black pants and trainers. 

She stood with her arms crossed in front of her and looked drawn and distressed. 

She did not speak during the hearing and only nodded briefly when engaging with her duty solicitor Kelly Beazley. 

When the issue of suppression was discussed and her husband and children were referenced she closed her eyes and bowed her head. 

No plea was entered. 

Judge Dominic Dravitzki remanded Dickason in custody to a secure forensic mental health unit until her next appearance in the High Court at Timaru on October 5. 

She was to be remanded to Christchurch Women's Prison but a duty psychologist arrived at court late in the hearing to tell Judge Dravitzki that she and the head of the forensic unit felt it was appropriate for Dickason to be remanded in the specialist facility. 

The Crown did not oppose that remand and Dickason consented to it. 

Judge Dravitzki then confirmed she would be taken to Te Whare Manaaki, the regional forensic inpatient service at Hillmorton Hospital until her first appearance in the High Court. 

He ordered a mental health report to establish Dickason's state at the time of the 
offending under the Crimes Act. 

Many details from the hearing have been suppressed to protect Graham Dickason and the wider family of the slain siblings. 

The girls arrived in Timaru with their parents a week ago. 

They moved here from Pretoria in South Africa. 

Their father Graham is an orthopedic surgeon and had a job with the South Canterbury District Health Board. 

After spending two weeks in managed isolation the family arrived in Timaru to start the next chapter of their lives. 

Today, SCDHB chief executive Jason Power expressed his sorrow after the tragic incident. 

"This tragedy has affected many of our staff, at this time our focus is to provide our full support to our staff member and to our staff," he said. 

"Thank you to everyone who has offered support and kind messages, including our colleagues from other DHBs. 

"As this is a police matter, it is not appropriate for the South Canterbury DHB to provide any further comment at this stage." 

A neighbour told the Herald she heard a bang and then the sounds of sobbing and moaning at about 9.40pm. 

"We went outside and realised it was coming from the neighbouring property," said Jade Whaley. 

She said while outside they saw a fellow neighbour speaking to a person at the back unit. 
It is understood that neighbour then called police. 

"Everything got cordoned off. We weren't sure what had happened but we knew something significant had happened," Whaley said. 

It is understood Graham had been out at a work function and arrived home to find the children dead. 

A neighbour found him distressed soon after and called 111. 

Police then converged on the house. 

A scene examination is ongoing. 

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.