Chris Dawson, subject of Teacher’s Pet podcast, set to be charged with former wife’s murder

Updated December 06, 2018 00:48:22

Chris Dawson, the former husband of missing Sydney woman Lynette Dawson, will be extradited from Queensland to New South Wales where he is expected to be charged with her murder.

Key points:

  • Mother of two Lynette Dawson disappeared from Sydney’s northern beaches in 1982
  • Two separate coronial investigations have been held into matter and the DPP was asked to review brief of evidence in April
  • Chris Dawson maintains he had nothing to do with Ms Dawson’s disappearance

The former Newtown Jets rugby league player, who is at the centre of the popular Teacher’s Pet podcast, appeared in Southport Magistrates Court with his head bowed, wearing a t-shirt, shorts and bare feet.

His lawyer made an application for bail, which was opposed by police.

Mr Dawson, 70, was arrested at Biggera Waters by detectives from Queensland Police Service’s Homicide Squad.

Ms Dawson disappeared from Sydney’s northern beaches on January 9, 1982. She was 33 at the time.

Her husband Chris Dawson, a former PE teacher, moved his schoolgirl lover into the family home just days after his wife went missing.

Mr Dawson told Lynette’s family that she needed time away, and he did not report her missing to police for almost six weeks.

He continues to maintain he had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance.

The duty lawyer told the court he was willing to surrender his passport and live with a brother in NSW.

Magistrate Dennis Kinsella denied Mr Dawson’s bail application, saying he was an unacceptable risk of failing to appear.

He also described the police case as “circumstantial”, as no body had been found.

Mr Dawson held his head in his hands as the magistrate made his decision.

Queensland Police said Mr Dawson’s extradition to NSW was unlikely to take place on Wednesday because of continuing negotiations with the commercial airlines over security arrangements.

It is understood the airlines are concerned about taking Mr Dawson on board because of the strong interest in the case. 

It has not been determined whether they will fly out of the Brisbane or Gold Coast airport.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said Ms Dawson’s family was relieved after being told of the arrest.

“I have said from the start, what is important to me was just as important for Lynette Dawson and her family,” he said.

“Today is an important step forward in that.”

The podcast on the case, Teacher’s Pet, has had millions of downloads and recently won The Australian’s Hedley Thomas and Slade Gibson a Gold Walkley.

In a statement, the Dawson family said it was disappointed.

“There is clear and uncontested evidence that Lyn Dawson was alive long after she left Chris and their daughters,” the statement said.

“We have no doubt whatsoever that Chris will be found not guilty, as he is innocent.”

Police haven’t given up hope of finding a body

Mr Fuller said detectives received additional evidence since asking the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to review their brief of evidence in April.

“They were predominantly statements from witnesses that helped us tie pieces of the puzzle together,” he said.

In September, police searched Ms Dawson’s former home but failed to discover any remains or items of interest.

Mr Fuller said finding Ms Dawson’s remains was “not crucial to finalising the matter”, however investigators had not given up hope of doing so.

“We’re certainly hoping an interview with this 70-year-old man who’s currently in custody in Queensland will assist us with the outcome of where the body may be.”

Two separate coronial investigations have been held into Ms Dawson’s disappearance.

New South Wales Police’s Strike Force Scriven was established in 2015 to reinvestigate the case.

An application for a warrant was lodged after NSW Police received advice back from the DPP earlier this week.

The Commander of the NSW Homicide Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said Mr Dawson was “calm” but “taken aback” when he was taken into custody.

He said two witness statements in particular helped piece the evidence together.

Questions had also arisen around the Dawson property, leading to the excavation, Detective Superintendent Cook added.

“We want to be put beyond any doubt whether Lynette was there or not, and it was important for us in terms of prosecution to ensure that we did the dig and we put that beyond any doubt,” he said.

Topics: crime, law-crime-and-justice, murder-and-manslaughter, sydney-2000, biggera-waters-4216, nsw, australia, brisbane-4000, qld

First posted December 05, 2018 10:08:27

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