Lauren Dickason, 40, from South Africa, has been accused of killing two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla, and their six-year-old sister Liane at a home in Timaru, in the Canterbury region, on Thursday.
Her husband Graham Dickason discovered the bodies of his three children after returning home around 10pm, and was heard by neighbours screaming: ‘Is this really happening?’
Graham, who is an orthopaedic surgeon, and Lauren, also a doctor, had just moved their family to New Zealand in order to start a new life.
South African doctor Lauren Dickason, 40, has been charged with the murder of her two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla, and their six-year-old sister Liane (pictured together)
The childrens’ father Graham Dickason, who is an orthopaedic surgeon, had returned to their Timaru home at around 10pm on Thursday where he discovered the children’s bodies. Pictured: Graham and Lauren
The family arrived in New Zealand in late August and had finished their 14-day hotel quarantine stay days before the tragedy unfolded.
A photograph posted on social media on August 30 showing the three girls happily clutching little kiwi cuddly toys with beaming smiles as they arrived in the country.
According to reports, a neighbour heard someone ‘wailing’ outside the property, on Queen Street in the suburb of Parkside, 15 minutes before police arrived.
‘The first noise we heard was somebody sobbing, and then we heard a loud thud like someone just slammed a door,’ the neighbour Jade Whaley told Stuff.
‘We could see someone through our fence wandering behind the house and wailing.’
Another resident, Karen Cowper, described hearing a man crying and saying ‘is this really happening?’
The young family (pictured together) had just moved to New Zealand from Pretoria, South Africa and recently finished their 14-day hotel quarantine
The girl’s mother Lauren was charged with the murder of her three daughters and is due to appear in the Timaru District Court on Saturday. Pictured: Police tape protects the scene on Queen Street in Timaru, New Zealand’s South Island
‘We asked him if he was OK. He did not respond to us and was screaming and crying hysterically,’ Ms Cowper said.
The girl’s mother Lauren was taken to the nearby Timaru Hospital on Thursday, where she is in a stable condition.
On Friday she was charged with the murder of her three daughters and is due to appear in the Timaru District Court on Saturday.
The family had recently arrived in New Zealand from Pretoria, South Africa and had only been in the town for a week.
The girls’ grandmother said the family was struggling to comprehend what had happened.
‘It hasn’t actually sunk in yet. We’re in a terrible state of shock. We are devastated,’ she told Stuff.
Canterbury Police District Commander Superintendent John Price said the family appeared to have few contacts in New Zealand.
A photograph posted on social media on August 30 (pictured) showing the three girls happily clutching little kiwi cuddly toys with excited smiles as they arrived in the country
Earlier this month the mother took to social media asking for help as they prepared for the move.
She had asked for advice about buying furniture in Timaru and wanted to know which schools would be best for her children.
Detective Inspector Scott Anderson said NZ Police was ‘speaking with people from the address and no-one else is being sought at this time’.
The deaths are the second tragedy in as many months to befall the South Island community.
Last month, five teenage boys were killed in a one-car crash in which only the 19-year-old driver survived.
In South Africa, the girls’ grandmother said the family was struggling to comprehend what had happened. Pictured: The twins, Maya and Karla and sister, Liane