Lauren Dickason, who is accused of murdering her three daughters, did not appear before the Timaru High Court on Friday, 15 October, because she “remains unwell” at the Hillmorton Hospital she was remanded to for psychiatric evaluation after her first court appearance.
The South African doctor’s legal team said the accused intends to plead not guilty to the three murder charges.
Dickason allegedly killed her twin daughters – Maya and Karla, aged two – and their older sister Liane, aged six, at a house in Queen Street, Timaru on 16 September.
After her first court appearance on 18 September Dickason was remanded to Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch for mental assessment. Two weeks later, on 5 October, she appeared before the Timaru High Court via video link. Dickason did not enter a plea but a trial date was set for March 2023 and her mental health was still being assessed.
On Friday, 15 October, Dickason was expected to appear before the Timaru High Court just after 9:00 but the video link could not be established because she is “still unwell” and remains in the care of the Hillmorton Hospital’s forensic mental health unit.
Justice Cameron Mander heard that Dickason would be entering pleas of not guilty to all three charges of murder. He told her lawyer, Kerryn Beaton, that because the accused was not appearing in court, she would need to sign a written notice so that her legal team could enter the not guilty pleas on her behalf, according to Stuff. This must be done on Friday.
The court also heard that both Dickason’s defence and the state are arranging independent psychiatric reports and that she requires ongoing assessment as an inpatient. Meanwhile, the murder accused will remain in hospital until her trial kicks off or until being held there was “no longer seen as necessary or appropriate.”
Graham Dickason, the orthopaedic surgeon who discovered his daughters’ dead bodies, has not attended any of Lauren’s court appearances to date, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Suppression orders in New Zealand mean that the details of the alleged murders and the information contained in Dickason’s assessment reports cannot be published.
Dickason’s next appearance before the High Court is expected on 17 December when her case will be reviewed.