Chris Dawson: Husband in podcast-famous case guilty of murder

Date Added: August 30, 2022 07:23:14 AM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: News & References

An Australian man who became the subject of a popular crime podcast has been found guilty of his wife's cold case murder.

Chris Dawson's trial in a Sydney court this year followed decades of speculation about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Lynette.

Her body has never been found and all the evidence was circumstantial.

Dawson was charged in 2018 after the podcast garnered global attention and prompted a renewed investigation.

The 74-year-old denies killing Mrs Dawson, maintaining she had abandoned him and their two children - possibly to join a religious group.

When handing down his verdict on Tuesday, Justice Ian Harrison said the evidence against Dawson was "persuasive and compelling".

The judge found Dawson was "possessively obsessed" with his teenage babysitter, who is known as JC for legal reasons, and wanted her as a "replacement" for his wife.

Dawson had become increasingly desperate as previous plans to leave his marriage failed and JC wanted to end the relationship, Justice Harrison said.

"I'm satisfied that the prospect that he would lose [JC] so distressed, frustrated, and ultimately overwhelmed him that... Mr Dawson resolved to kill his wife," he told the New South Wales Supreme Court.

He moved JC into their house just days after Mrs Dawson disappeared and only reported his wife missing six weeks later.

Dawson will be sentenced at a later date.

Tears from Lynette Dawson's family

Phil Mercer, BBC News at NSW Supreme Court

Ashen and dazed. Chris Dawson appeared to be in shock as he stepped into a lift on the 13th floor of the court with his older brother, Peter, and his lawyer during a break in the judge's deliberations.

I stood an arm's length away from a man who a couple of hours later would become a convicted killer.

After 40 years, the mystery and tragedy of Lynette Dawson's disappearance have finally been solved.

The judge demolished her husband's defence, labelling key parts 'absurd' and 'fanciful'.

There were gasps from his family members when the guilty verdict was eventually handed down. There were tears from Lynette Dawson's relatives who sat quietly nearby.

The former teacher was led away in handcuffs, shaking his head. Justice Harrison's lengthy verdict has finally exposed his lies and deceit.

The case shot to global prominence when it was investigated by journalist Hedley Thomas in podcast The Teacher's Pet.

The series won Australian journalism's highest honour and has been streamed more than 30 million times, topping charts in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand.

But the podcast also jeopardised the case against Dawson, with Justice Harrison criticising its "less than balanced view" on the case.

The trial was initially delayed due to publicity the podcast created, and Dawson's lawyers tried to halt the case altogether, arguing the series had contaminated witnesses and potential jurors.

Dawson was instead granted a trial before a single judge, rather than jury.

Victim 'idolised her children'

Lynette Dawson, a 33-year-old mother of two, disappeared from her Sydney home in January 1982. Police have never found any trace of her.

Her husband told police she called him one weekend and told him she needed time away. He said he also received several phone calls from her afterwards.

But prosecutors argued Dawson murdered her after failed plots to leave the marriage - which they said included contemplating hiring a hitman and attempting to move to Queensland to start a new life with JC.

Justice Harrison rejected the claim about the hitman and allegations Dawson had been physically abusive towards his wife.

But he concluded she did not "abandon" her home voluntarily, as the defence suggested. He noted that Mrs Dawson "idolised her children and her husband" and all her belongings remained at her home.

"Even her contact lenses were found... in a blue container when delivered by Mr Dawson with her belongings," he said.
~ Via BBC