20 Jul 2023

Dickason murder trial: Accused's husband grief-stricken on night of daughters' killings - colleague

7:31 pm on 20 July 2023
Woman charged with murder of three daughters. Graham & Lauren Dickason and kids Liane 6 and twins Maya and Karla 2 Dickason

The three Dickason girls, Maya, Karla and Liané. Photo: Supplied

Warning: This story contains distressing content.

A work colleague of Graham Dickason has described finding the distraught father moments after he found his three daughters dead.

The Lauren Dickason triple murder trial continued into a fourth day in the High Court in Christchurch today.

The 42-year-old has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and infanticide to the murder of her two-year-old twin daughters Karla and Maya and their older sister, Liane, in September 2021.

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

Lauren Dickason, who is on trial for the killings. Photo: Pool / NZME/ George Heard

Several witnesses, including emergency service first responders, provided chilling testimonies today. It followed two days of evidence from the husband of the accused.

A written statement from Mark Cvitanich, a fellow orthopaedic surgeon who welcomed the Dickason family to Timaru in the days leading up to the deaths, was read to the court by Crown prosecutor Andrew McRae. Cvitanich remembered greeting the family when they arrived in Timaru on 11 September.

"The unit is a block of three on Queen Street, just across the road from the hospital, they were in the back unit down the driveway.

"They seemed like a nice family, I met Graham and Lauren and the children.

"The children were running around checking out the rooms."

It would only be five days before tragedy would besiege his new work colleague. Cvitanich was the first person Dickason called after he discovered his girls dead in their beds. He drove to the house and saw a distraught Dickason sitting on the ground against the fence "screaming and crying".

"I parked just past the driveway and [my wife] and I both got out.

"Graham was still sitting on the ground and his phone was beside him on the ground.

"Graham kept crying and saying 'they're dead'."

Later in the day, his wife Cath Cvitanich gave evidence in court, where she broke down in tears as she recounted the night's events.

"I just held him [Dickason]. I stayed with Graham and Mark called the police.

"At one stage I got up to speak to Mark, Graham got up to the end of the property and just fell into a seated position.

"He was crying and saying 'my babies' ... he was really crying."

Several emergency service workers, who responded on the night, also provided statements today. Constable William Turnbull was the first officer to enter the house.

"Two of the children were in individual beds with the sheets up around their chests and the third child was on the end of the right-hand side bed.

"I could see no signs of life in any of the three children."

Attention then turned to the little girls' mother Lauren Dickason. Police found her lying across the end of a single bed. Constable Alexandra Schrader told the jury she spent up to 10 minutes with Dickason, trying to get her to respond.

"She kept closing her eyes like she wanted to sleep.

"I told her she needed to keep her eyes open and she needed to talk to me, so I knew she was okay."

Schrader described the woman's speech as "quiet and muffled".

The officer in charge of the crime scene Detective Scott Genet also gave evidence. The 12 jurors were shown photos of the Queen Street property during his testimony.

Genet said he saw the twins (Karla and Maya) tucked into their beds with soft toys and a blanket, and Liané laid across one of the beds about halfway up the bed.

The trial continues in the High Court on Friday.

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