More than 1000 people have joined a support group for triple child murderer Lauren Anne Dickason - and are planning to protest a month before she is sentenced to life in prison for killing her three little girls.
Last month - following a five-week trial - the 42-year-old was found guilty of murdering Liané, 6, and 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla at the family’s new home in Timaru.
Dickason systematically smothered the children to death - just weeks after emigrating to New Zealand - after an unsuccessful attempt at strangling each of them with cable ties.
The 42-year-old doctor admitted killing the children but pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder, mounting a defence of insanity or infanticide.
She maintained that she was so mentally disturbed at the time of the offending that she could not be held fully responsible.
However, after hearing exhaustive evidence from Dickason, those closest to her and a number of experts a jury found Dickason guilty of murdering all three children.
Dickason will be sentenced by Justice Cameron Mander to three life sentences - expected to be served concurrently - on December 19.
The Herald has sought comment from Dickason on the verdict and the online support.
Her lawyers today said - repeating their stance at the end of the trial - they were not in a position to make any comment on Dickason’s behalf.
On that date he will be tasked with deciding her minimum non-parole period and where she will be detained.
Since her first court appearance two days after the murder, she has been held at Hillmorton Hospital in a secure psychiatric unit.
During her trial it was confirmed she remains under intense monitoring due to her risk of suicide, and is heavily medicated.
Justice Mander has ordered a number of mental health and other reports about Dickason’s condition so he can ascertain where she should serve her sentence - or at least where she should start serving her time.
Since the verdicts, more than 1000 people - mostly women - have joined a Facebook page supporting the murderer.
“Support Lauren Dickason” was created in July 2022 and it is understood the killer’s father is among the members.
South African media have reported that a recent discussion on the page related to organising a protest in Christchurch in November, a month before sentencing.
A petition has also been launched demanding Justice Mander consider the “crisis” of post-partum depression when sentencing Dickason.
As of this morning, it had 712 signatures.
“By signing this petition, we acknowledge the precarious plight of women who suffer from this illness and its presence as a public health crisis,” wrote petition organiser Tanya Parker.
“We plead with Justice Mander to consider this in his sentencing of Lauren.”
People who have signed the petition have also left comments.
“I would like to support Lauren as I am a mental health nurse. I understand it’s not easy to live with a mental illness,” said one woman.
“When your brain is not working, emotions are high. She has done this crime when she is not in a good state. I hope she gets free and can go back to Africa (sic).”
Joanne Frazer wrote:
“Having sat through much of Lauren Dickason’s trial, it is my opinion that she has been the victim of a huge miscarriage of justice.”
Other people who put their names to the petition said - without having been present at the trial or hearing the full evidence - they felt Dickason was not treated fairly, her mental health was misunderstood and it was inappropriate for a jury of civilians to decide her fate with no expert knowledge or training of her disorder.
Another person said Dickason “deserves our love and support.
“She is unwell and needs treatment... she would be best served being returned to South Africa where she would have the support of family and friends.”
Another stated: “I don’t think Lauren is guilty”.
During her trial, her mental illness - a major depressive disorder - was not in question.
Under New Zealand law Dickason must serve her sentence here and returning to South Africa would not be an option until such time - if ever - she is granted parole.
If she is released she may be deported.
After the verdict was read in court Dickason’s parents Malcolm and Wendy Fawkes - who travelled to Christchurch from South Africa to attend every day of their daughter’s trial - released a statement.
In it they said postpartum depression was “a terrible thing” and that had been shown by what happened to their family.
“This was not our daughter, but a debilitating mental illness which resulted in an awful tragedy, the details of which you are by now well aware,” they said.
“Our beloved Lianè, Karla and Maya were taken from this life to another as a result of this crippling disease.
“There are no winners in this tragedy.
“We would like to encourage families and individuals around the world to be aware of the symptoms of post-partum depression as early as possible, both for yourselves as well as close family and friends around you.
“If treated early and managed correctly, people can experience a full recovery. The person experiencing depression and those closest to them may not be able to recognize the signs or how serious postpartum depression can become.”
During the trial defence experts said Dickason was in the grips of postpartum depression when she killed the girls.
But Crown experts refuted that, saying while she was certainly experiencing depression after the births of Lianè and the twins - the bouts were reoccurrences of the major depressive disorder Dickason was diagnosed with at 15.
The King v Lauren Anne Dickason - the Crown and defence cases
The Crown’s case was Dickason murdered the children in a “calculated” way because she was frustrated, angry and resentful of them.
It acknowledged Dickason suffered from sometimes-serious depression, but maintained she knew what she was doing when she killed the girls.
Crown Prosecutor Andrew McRae alleged Dickason was an angry and frustrated woman who was “resentful of how the children stood in the way of her relationship with her husband” and killed them “methodically and purposefully, perhaps even clinically”.
The defence argued Dickason was a severely mentally disturbed woman in the depths of postpartum depression and did not know the act of killing the children was morally wrong at the time of their deaths.
Further, it says she was “in such a dark place” she had decided to kill herself and felt “it was the right thing to do” to “take the girls with her”.
The jury returned a majority verdict after two days of deliberation.
They were convinced by the Crown case and found Dickason guilty of three counts of murder.