On Wednesday, a jury in New Zealand found a woman guilty of murdering her three young children.
During the Christchurch High Court trial, Lauren Dickason admitted that she killed her 2-year-old twin daughters Maya and Karla, and their 6-year-old sister Lianè, but later pleaded not guilty to murder, the Associated Press reported.
The crime reportedly took place two years ago at their family home in Timaru. Dickason, 42, and her husband Graham Dickason, were both working in the medical field at the time of the tragedy. The father, an orthopedic surgeon, claimed he was not present when the crime was committed and that he made the grim discoveries of his daughter’s dead bodies after he returned home from a work dinner, according to CBS News.
Graham told investigators that he was aware that his spouse struggled with her mental health after becoming a mother but that he never thought she was capable of physically harming any of their three children.
The family had just moved to New Zealand from South Africa only days before the homicides. According to the outlet, they were looking to escape unrest going on in their home country and have a brighter future with new beginnings.
Although Lauren confessed to the killings, she insisted that she was not mentally stable at the time, thus making her not responsible which reportedly lead to a not-guilty plea, NBC News reports. Despite her attempts to insist that she wasn’t at fault, prosecutors revealed troubling phone messages and online history in the weeks before the killings. She’d also allegedly made comments about wanting to kill her children and searched for the “most effective overdose in kids” via Google.
After four weeks, the jury reached a conclusion. She was declared guilty after rejecting her legal defense with New Zealand’s insanity and infanticide laws. However, the group’s decision was not unanimous. The jury voted 11-1 for her conviction but under New Zealand law, the split was allowed.
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Lauren could be sentenced to life in prison for the death of her three daughters. AP cited a report from Radio New Zealand that the mother did not move as the verdict was handed down. Once she was being taken out of the courtroom, she began to weep softly. Several jurors were also heard crying.
Detective Inspector Scott Anderson offered his condolences surrounding the ill-fated situation. On behalf of the police department, he noted that the force was saddened for the relatives who were robbed of getting the opportunity to watch Liané, Maya, and Karla grow up and live out their lives.
“Words cannot begin to express the tragic circumstances of this investigation,” he said.
“We would like to encourage families and individuals around the world to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression as early as possible, both for yourselves, as well as close family and friends around you,” Lauren’s mother and father Malcolm and Wendy Fawkes, said in the statement.
Maya, Karla, and Lianè were suffocated with pillows and placed in their beds under the covers before Lauren reportedly attempted to kill herself. According to the New Zealand Herald, prior to mid-July 2023, much of the information in the case had been suppressed.