Cape Town – A former Pretoria doctor accused of murdering her three daughters soon after moving to New Zealand intends entering not guilty pleas.
The 40-year-old Lauren Dickason is accused of killing Liané, 6, and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla on September 16 by strangling them with cable ties. She is in Hillmorton Hospital’s forensic unit in Christchurch for mental evaluation.
On Friday, her appearance by video link was excused when the case was called in the High Court, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Justice Cameron Mander told the defence counsel that because Dickason was not appearing, the defendant would need to sign a written notice today so counsel could enter the not guilty pleas on her behalf. Both the both the defence and Crown (State) are arranging independent psychiatric reports
Friday’s session took place in the High Court at Christchurch, with a link to the Timaru Court House so relatives and local media could also watch proceedings.
In a letter published last month, Graham Dickason, the orthopaedic surgeon who found his three young daughters dead in their new home, said he had forgiven his wife for the murders and urged the public to do the same, adding that Lauren was also a “victim” in this tragedy.
Dickason, who was hospitalised after the incident, had appeared in court in Timaru on September 18 for a psychiatric assessment. The trial has been scheduled for March 2023 and Dickason was remanded to a case review hearing on December 17.
Justice Mander said she would continue to be detained in a hospital unit until the trial, until detention was “no longer seen as necessary or appropriate”.
Commenting on reports from New Zealand last month that Dickason had stopped taking chronic medication for alleged depression before emigrating, the children's former child carer, Mendy Sibanyoni, told the Sunday Times she was not aware that her employer had displayed such symptoms.