The many ‘strands of evidence’ against Chris Dawson

CHRIS Dawson covered his ears and sat with his head in his hands as a Southport magistrate yesterday read out the many "strands" of evidence against him over the alleged murder of his wife Lynette almost 37 years ago.

Barefoot, wearing a light brown T-shirt and shorts, the 70-year-old former Sydney rugby league player and teacher sat in the dock and stared at the floor for much of his extradition hearing.

A sketch of 70-year old Chris Dawson while he appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court after being arrested over the murder of his wife Lyn Dawson. SKETCH: Richard Gosling.
A sketch of 70-year old Chris Dawson while he appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court after being arrested over the murder of his wife Lyn Dawson. SKETCH: Richard Gosling.

"Essentially, the Crown case reflects a number of strands upon which ultimately the Crown seeks to rely in order to prove the charge," Magistrate Dennis Kinsella said in refusing Dawson's application for bail.

He ordered Dawson be extradited to NSW, where he is due to appear in a Paramatta court today.

Mr Kinsella outlined the nature of the Crown's case, noting that the body of Dawson's former wife Lynette Dawson was never found after she went missing from Sydney's northern beaches on January 8, 1982.

Mrs Dawson's disappearance has been the subject of The Australian's Gold Walkley Award-winning podcast The Teacher's Pet.

A man has been arrested in Queensland on behalf of NSW Homicide Squad detectives investigating the 1982 disappearance of Northern Beaches wife and mother, Lynette Joy Dawson. Source: NSW Police.
A man has been arrested in Queensland on behalf of NSW Homicide Squad detectives investigating the 1982 disappearance of Northern Beaches wife and mother, Lynette Joy Dawson. Source: NSW Police.

Dawson's appearance before a magistrate yesterday was the first time he had appeared in court facing allegations of murder.

"There is the contextual matter, as to the allegation Mr Dawson was conducting an illicit affair at the relevant time in conjunction with the deterioration of his relationship with the alleged deceased, his then wife," Mr Kinsella said.

He mentioned Joanne Curtis, with whom Dawson was having an affair while he was a sports teacher at Cromer High School in Sydney. Curtis was aged 16 when Mrs Dawson disappeared.

Mr Kinsella said police alleged they had evidence Dawson had the desire to leave the relationship, that there were "outstanding property issues", and there was alleged domestic violence.

A man has been arrested in Queensland on behalf of NSW Homicide Squad detectives investigating the 1982 disappearance of Northern Beaches wife and mother, Lynette Joy Dawson. Lyn Dawson, a 33-year-old mother-of-two, went missing on or around Saturday 9 January 1982. Source: NSW Police
A man has been arrested in Queensland on behalf of NSW Homicide Squad detectives investigating the 1982 disappearance of Northern Beaches wife and mother, Lynette Joy Dawson. Lyn Dawson, a 33-year-old mother-of-two, went missing on or around Saturday 9 January 1982. Source: NSW Police

"Further … there is proposed to be evidence which will be reflective of the other person's observations of domestic violence, or the consequential injury of that domestic violence," Mr Kinsella said.

In detailing further evidence in the case against Dawson, Mr Kinsella said Mrs Dawson was involved in ordinary daily life and showed no signs of wanting to change it before she disappeared.

"(She) exhibited no signs of willing to depart that life … including engaging with a photographer for a family portrait, the conduct of a birthday party for their mother and also being involved with preparation for school for one of their children," Mr Kinsella said.

He said there was evidence Mrs Dawson did not plan to flee and further evidence she did not have the financial means to.

Supplied image of Lynette Dawson. Lyn circa 1964 aged 16.
Supplied image of Lynette Dawson. Lyn circa 1964 aged 16.

"Further evidence … is the circumstance of not picking up her pay and the circumstances whereby there was no desire by her previously expressed as to leaving the area," Mr Kinsella said.

"This also includes the allegation she was not financially viable at the time of her alleged departure."

He said Dawson's previous discussions with police made up some of their case against him.

Dawson's duty lawyer Rachel Barnes submitted he was able to stay with his twin brother Paul in NSW and would surrender himself to police today.

She said he was not a flight risk and would happily surrender his passport.

Mr Kinsella noted Dawson's "good character" but said the allegations against him were too serious to release him on bail.

"To my mind the matter of consideration is the objective seriousness of the offence which is before this court," he said.

"I've come to the view that despite his ties with our community and the community in New South Wales and despite his otherwise good character and lack of any evidence of noncompliance of bail (in the past), the objective features are such that he is an unacceptable risk of failing to appear.''

Mr Kinsella ordered Dawson be extradited to NSW to appear in the Parramatta Local Court today, where he will be charged with the murder of his wife Lynette Dawson.

Yesterday NSW police were trying to arrange a flight but had trouble organising it with airlines due to security issues.



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