Great Britain

Doctors planned ‘dream’ move to New Zealand for two years before mother Lauren Dickason ‘murdered’ their three girls

A PAIR of doctors planned their "dream" family move to New Zealand for two years before the wife allegedly killed their three girls.

Lauren Dickason, 40, was silent as she was charged with the deaths of her two-year-old twins Karla and Maya and their older sister Liane, six, at Timaru District Court in New Zealand.

The medical practitioner appeared before Judge Dominic Dravitzki in the Timaru District Court and was remanded without plea to a secure facility at Hillmorton Hospital​ in Christchurch.

Dickason, her husband Graham, and their three girls arrived in New Zealand last month and had been in Timaru for only a week.

Friends say the couple had been planning their dream relocation to New Zealand for two years, according to stuff.co.nz.

But this all came crashing down within a few days.

The family had emigrated from Pretoria, South Africa, and settled into their new home in Timaru, on New Zealand's South Island.

A picture posted online on August 30 shows the smiling girls clutching toy kiwis after they landed in the country.

But Graham, an orthopaedic surgeon, came home about 10pm on Thursday to find his three children dead.

One neighbour, Chantel Pretorius, said their children had gone to kindergarten together and added: "That news is terrible, we don't know what to make of it."

"Their emigration took very long, they wanted to emigrate before Covid, and then Covid held everything back.

"Her last message to me was how panicked she was when there was a power outage at their home during the recent looting in South Africa.

"So they were really ready to get over to New Zealand, it’s what they worked for and planned for, it was their dream for two years.”

The children's grandparents in South Africa said the whole extended family was "in a state of shock" since hearing the devastating news.

"The extended families are in a state of shock as we try to understand what happened.

"We ask for your prayers and support during this very difficult time. We would also request privacy as we battle to come to terms with what has happened," they said.

"So they were really ready to get over to New Zealand, it’s what they worked for and planned for, it was their dream for two years.”

Chantel Pretorius, neighbour

Natasja le Roux, a former colleague and neighbour told the Sunday Times in South Africa: "I cannot comprehend what happened - she is a medical doctor and she wasn't arrogant or anything like that. She was very humble.

"She was really just a nice person, she and her husband."

According to the former neighbour, Dickason and husband Graham had difficulties conceiving their children and were dedicated and loving parents.

"They waited years for those children because she had troubles with fertility and stuff, so it really is a big shock," le Roux added.

Mendy Sibanyoni, a family friend from South Africa, said there was nothing in the couple's background that suggested they were troubled.

She said both parents "loved their kids like nobody's business".

"Those children, that family, are like my own. I was in their house...I went on holiday with them. [The parents] never argued. They were two darlings. What could have gone wrong?" she said.

Other former neighbours, who did not want to be identified, said the couple were very "grateful" for their kids.

"They absolutely adored those children. They were so grateful for having them because they struggled to get pregnant and when they finally got the children, they loved them," the neighbour said.

"Something just doesn't add up. I don't know if it's the stress from New Zealand, moving there, being quarantined for so long and everything - just not coping with that going on.

"So I think whatever happened is not normal, it wasn't normal circumstances."

Dickason and her family had moved to New Zealand from South Africa days earlier to start a new life but on Thursday neighbours reportedly heard "haunting wails" and a woman sobbing at their house.

Following the ordeal, neighbours said they heard a bang and then the sounds of sobbing and moaning at about 9.40pm.

FAMILY HORROR

Jade Whaley said: "The first noise we heard was somebody sobbing, and then we heard a loud thud like someone just slammed a door.

"We could see someone through our fence wandering behind the house and wailing."

Another neighbour Karen Cowper described hearing a man crying out "Is this really happening?" just after 10pm.

Police sealed off the house - which is leased by the local hospital for newly arrived staff - after paramedics tried in vain to save the girls.

Forensics officers in white overalls spent Friday examining the home for evidence.

“Police would like to reassure the community that this was a tragic isolated incident and we are not seeking anyone else,” said Det Insp Scott Anderson.

"The investigation into this tragedy is still in its very early stages, but we can confirm that nobody else is being sought in relation to the deaths of the three children."

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