Timaru triple homicide: Mother's trial moved to Christchurch

Tributes to 6-year-old Liané and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
Tributes to 6-year-old Liané and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
The woman accused of murdering her three children at their Timaru home just weeks after emigrating from South Africa has had her trial venue moved.

Lauren Anne Dickason's case was called in the High Court today and it was confirmed her lawyer had filed an application to have her 2023 trial moved from Timaru, where the alleged offending happened, to Christchurch.

Dickason allegedly killed 6-year-old Liané, and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla at their Timaru home on September 16, 2021.

Her husband, orthopaedic surgeon Graham Dickason, found the three children dead and his wife in a serious condition when he arrived home from a dinner with colleagues.

The family had emigrated to New Zealand from Pretoria and had only been in Timaru two weeks - following a stint in MIQ - when the children died.

The specific details of their deaths have been suppressed.

Dickason has not attended any of her court hearings since her first appearance two days after the children were killed.

The first appearance was in the Timaru District Court and subsequent dates have been in the High Court at Christchurch.

Police at the scene in Timaru. Photo: George Heard
Police at the scene in Timaru. Photo: George Heard
In October 2021 her lawyer entered pleas of not guilty to all three murder charges with Dickason's signed consent.

A trial date was set for 2023.

Several scheduled court dates since then have been adjourned as health assessments for the accused killer continued.

Dickason was excused again from appearing in court in person today.

That excusal was granted by Justice Mander last month when her case was last called.

He explained that her appearance was excused on advice from her managing clinician.

He said it was thought "at this stage it was thought best not to expose her to the court setting".

Today Justice Mander heard from Dickason's lawyer Kerryn Beaton QC about the application to move the trial.

As the alleged murders occurred in Timaru the trial was set to be held there.

Liané  Dickason with twin sisters Maya and Karla. Photo: Supplied
Liané Dickason with twin sisters Maya and Karla. Photo: Supplied
However, Beaton said it was not possible to properly accommodate Dickason there given her health issues.

She asked the court to move the trial to the High Court at Christchurch where she was currently being held.

Justice Mander granted the application.

He said it meant the trial may have to be moved to 2024.

A date for that trial would be confirmed later this year, pending space on the High Court at Christchurch schedule.

Dickason remains in custody in the medium secure psychiatric unit at Hillmorton.

After the three girls were found dead Dickason was rushed to Timaru Hospital in a critical condition.

Within 24 hours she had been arrested and charged with the three murders.

Dickason first appeared in the Timaru District Court on September 18.

She was remanded in custody and detained at a forensic psychiatric facility for assessment.

A week after the alleged murders Graham Dickason said he had forgiven his wife and felt she was also a victim in the tragedy.

He has since returned to South Africa.

It is understood he dialled in to today's hearing.

It is unclear when or if he will return to New Zealand.

Details of any funeral or farewell for the little girls have not been shared by the family.

-By Anna Leask

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