17 Jul 2023

Trial of mother accused of murdering her three daughters begins

12:29 pm on 17 July 2023
Lauren Anne Dickason in the High Court at Christchurch on 17 July 2023, on trial charged with murdering her three children.

Lauren Anne Dickason in the High Court at Christchurch on 17 July 2023. Photo: Pool / NZME/ George Heard

The High Court trial of a woman accused of killing her three daughters at their Timaru home is underway in Christchurch.

Lauren Anne Dickason is charged with murdering her 2-year-old twin daughters Karla and Maya, and their older sister Liané, who was 6, on 16 September 2021.

Her husband Graham, an orthopaedic surgeon, found them dead when he arrived home about 10pm after dining with colleagues at a restaurant.

The family had moved into a property in Timaru's Queen Street only a week earlier, having arrived in New Zealand from South Africa a month before.

Dickason has plead not guilty to the killings, with the defence to argue insanity and infanticide.

Dozens of witnesses will give evidence during the three-week trial in front of Justice Cameron Mander.

Empanelling of the twelve person jury began in court on Monday.

Opening statements from Crown prosecutor Andrew McRae and Dickason's defence lawyer Kerryn Beaton KC are expected to follow later in the day.

Woman charged with murder of three daughters. Graham & Lauren Dickason and kids Liane 6 and twins Maya and Karla 2 Dickason

Two-year-old twins Maya and Karla and their 6-year-old sister Liané. Photo: Supplied

With her signed consent, Dickason's lawyer entered pleas of not guilty to all three murder charges in October 2021.

Beaton confirmed her client was to rely on an insanity and infanticide defence.

Under New Zealand law, infanticide functions as both a stand-alone offence, and as a partial defence to murder or manslaughter.

Graham Dickason was expected to be called to give evidence in the trial from Tuesday.

The Crown was applying for him to give evidence from South Africa via audiovisual link, but this was opposed by the defence.

Suppression orders remain in place on the details of the alleged crime.