Justice Ian Harrison told the court Chris’ claim that Lynette called him at the Northbridge Baths the day she disappeared was “a lie”. He also took issue with Chris’ claims that Lynette had kept in touch with him following her disappearance, but did not reach out to anyone else, like her parents, co-workers, friends or children. He also pondered why she would keep in touch with Chris exclusively when they were apparently experiencing marital problems.
Harrison also told the court he found it strange that these phone calls always took place when no witnesses were around to confirm them, and revealed that he found Chris’ recollection of the conversations to be “lacking in context and pregnant with cliches.”
Judge Harrison then rejected a sizeable chunk of the defences evidence, which included all alleged sightings of Lynette after Jan 1982, the Northbridge Baths phone call on 9 Jan 1982, the calls to Chris Dawson after Jan 1982 and bankcard transactions by Lynette in Jan 1982. He said he accepted the fact that she was dead.
Chris’ defence team argued that Lynette had willingly abandoned her children, with one witness telling the court that she had been planning to run away due to marital problems. They relied on five sightings in the two years after Lynette vanished by people who knew her, including the Dawson’s former neighbours, Mr Dawson’s brother-in-law and family friends.
The court also heard evidence from the prosecution, who presented testimony from Lynette’s colleagues and friends which alleged that Chris was physically abusive towards Lynette and despised her. The prosecution also claimed that Chris had murdered Lynette in order to be with a girl publicly known as ‘JC’, a high school student with whom he was having an affair. The Crown ultimately argued that Chris operated on three motives: a deep animosity for his wife, an overwhelming desire to be with JC and a drive to avoid financial complications involved with divorce.
In 1982, Dawson’s first wife Lynette vanished from their Bayview home, never to be seen again. For years, Chris has been suspected of having some involvement in her mysterious absence, particularly as he had begun a secret relationship with one of his high school students, known as ‘JC’, two years prior — she was 16 at the time.
In October 1981, JC partly moved into the Dawsons’ family home in Bayview, and by the end of that year, she would allege that Chris had attempted to hire a hitman to kill his wife. Judge Harrison however, said he did not accept that this conversation took place.
On the 8th January 1982, both Chris and Lyn were attending marriage counselling, but the very next day, Chris claimed he received a phone call from Lyn telling him that she needed space and would be spending some time on the Central Coast with friends.
The next day, JC completely moved into the Dawson family home, with the Teacher’s Pet podcast alleging that she would wear Lyn’s jewellery and clothes.
Six weeks passed before Chris reported his wife missing to Mona Vale police. The following year, Chris filed for divorce from Lyn on the basis of abandonment and a year later, Chris and JC were married.
By 1993, Chris and JC were divorced, and in January 2000, the Dawson’s Bayview property was excavated, uncovering a woman’s pink cardigan which appeared to be slashed. Forensic testing did not show a positive match for Mrs Dawson’s DNA, per The Teacher’s Pet.
Following this discovery, a coronial inquest was held in February 2001, with Deputy State Coroner Jan Stevenson concluding that Mrs Dawson had been murdered and that her killer was someone she knew. They also recommended that charges be laid.
At the time, the then-Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, refused to do so because he said there was not enough evidence. He refused again in 2003, after a second coronial inquest had been held and a second coroner recommended charging Chris.
The case fell quiet for several years until 2015, when the NSW Police Force’s unsolved homicide unit re-investigated Lyn’s suspected murder, and in April 2018, detectives requested that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions review its brief of evidence. In September of that year, NSW Police dug up the Bayview property, but did not find a body.
In December 2018, Chris was arrested and expected to be charged with Lyn’s murder, to which he plead not guilty. The Teacher’s Pet podcast was released in May 2018 and reignited national and global interest in the case
Due to several delays (including the pandemic), the trial did not begin until May 2022 and lasted nine weeks.