In a New Zealand court on Wednesday, Lauren Dickason was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the 2021 murders of her three young daughters. Initially, Dickason will serve her sentence in a mental health hospital under state custody, as announced by a Christchurch High Court official.

Following the sentencing, Dickason expressed profound remorse, stating, “I take responsibility for taking our three beautiful girls from this world,” and acknowledged the pain caused to her family. Her husband has since returned to South Africa.

Justice Cameron Mander opted not to impose a minimum non-parole period for Dickason, sparing her from life imprisonment, the typical punishment for murder in New Zealand. Last August, she was found guilty of smothering her two-year-old twins, Maya and Karla, and her six-year-old daughter, Liane.

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The tragic events unfolded in September 2021 at the family’s home in Timaru while Dickason’s husband was out to dinner with colleagues. Upon his return, he discovered the lifeless bodies of his children. The family had relocated from South Africa to New Zealand just weeks earlier.

During the trial, Dickason admitted to the killings but claimed insanity and infanticide as her defense, citing the stress of the recent move. New Zealand law allows for an infanticide defense if a mother’s mental state was disturbed at the time of the offense. Her lawyer argued that a mental health facility was the most suitable placement for her.

The case has drawn significant attention, highlighting the complexities of mental health issues in legal proceedings.