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Teachers Pet podcast killer Chris Dawson files appeal against conviction for murdering wife Lynette

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Teacher’s Pet podcast killer Chris Dawson has filed an appeal against his conviction last month for the murder of his first wife Lynette 40 years ago.

Sources have told Daily Mail Australia the legal team for Dawson, 74, has lodged a notice of intention to appeal with the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

The move comes after his lawyer Greg Walsh revealed the former rugby league star and school teacher has faced death threats in jail since his conviction. 

Mr Walsh said Dawson maintained his innocence and is now understood to have lodged the appeal papers ahead of Dawson’s sentencing on November 11. 

Mr Walsh also told the Supreme Court earlier this month that Dawson was ‘in shock and sad about his predicament, and worried about his children’.

He asked Justice Ian Harrison for a recommendation that Dawson get care from mental health services, but was told the court did not have the power to tell Corrective Services what to do.

Investigators working the case have established two solid theories on the location of his wife’s body which has still never been found.

The first was that Lynette was buried in the backyard of the family home the couple shared with their young daughters on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Police excavations of the yard over the years and ground penetrating technology failed to provide any significant clues, except for a tattered cardigan with what appeared to be knife marks that experts were unable to link to Lynette.

‘There was the (other) theory that he travelled to the Central Coast on January 9,’ a police source told The Daily Telegraph

‘The challenge with that is that there is no physical evidence to point in any direction… there is a lot of regional bush area… there is no possible way to search it, it’s so vast.’

Prosecutors in the trial argued Dawson gave the couple’s two daughters to a friend to look after on January 9 to give him the opportunity to hide the body.

Justice Harrison said no evidence had been presented at trial to show Dawson’s whereabouts on that night. 

With no mobile phones, CCTV or dashcam available 40 years ago to track his movements, investigators are now relying on someone with information to speak up.

The mystery of Lynette Dawson’s fate that has haunted her family for four decades, and was investigated by The Australian journalist Hedley Thomas in his award-winning Teacher’s Pet podcast.

His Honour said Dawson was motivated by his obsessive infatuation with schoolgirl babysitter JC, with the fear of losing her and clearing the impediment that his wife Lyn represented, as well as not losing hold of his assets as would happen in a divorce.

Chris Dawson arrives at the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday before Justice Harrison convicted him of murdering his wife Lyn in 1982

In his decision, Justice Harrison said that potentially losing JC in early 1982 was a motive for murder: ‘I am satisfied he resolved to kill his wife’, and that there was also the financial motive of potentially losing his investments. 

‘The evidence does not reveal how he killed Lynette Dawson, nor where her body is now,’ he said. 

He said that the accused told a series of lies about his wife still being alive after her disappearance and about his missing her afterwards.

Lynette’s brother Greg Simms said after the verdict that his sister had been ‘betrayed by the man she loved’, and plead for her killer to reveal where her body is.

‘This is a milestone in our journey of advocating for Lyn, however the journey is not complete, she is still missing,’ he said outside court.

‘We still need to bring her home, we’d ask Chris Dawson to find it in himself to finally do the decent thing and allow us to bring Lyn home to a peaceful rest, showing her the dignity she deserves.’

Lyn’s brother Greg Simms and his wife Merilyn are seen outside court on Tuesday

Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife Lyn

Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife Lyn

Despite finding that he was not satisfied Dawson ’caused any of the bruising on Lynette’ or that he ‘was physically violent towards her’, Justice Harrison found him guilty of murder.

He was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette is dead, that she has not been seen or heard since on or around January 8, 1982 and that she did not leave her home voluntarily.

He was also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Dawson ‘had a possessive infatuation with’ the schoolgirl babysitter, JC. 

Reading through his written reasons for his verdict, Justice Harrison described some of the evidence in Dawson’s defence during the trial as ‘fanciful, absurd and lies’. 

‘I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Lynette Dawson never telephoned Christopher Dawson after 8 January 1982 and … that she did not leave her home voluntarily,’ Justice Harrison said. 

Dawson was described during a summary of the crown case by His Honour as ‘an unfaithful and violent man’.  

TIMELINE OF EVENTS FOLLOWING LYN DAWSON’S DISAPPEARANCE: 

 January 1982 – Lynette ‘Lyn’ Dawson, 33, disappears from her home at Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches, leaving behind two young daughters. The family’s babysitter, a schoolgirl who can only be identified as JC, moves into the home within days.

February – Chris Dawson, a teacher and former Newtown Jets rugby league player, reports his wife missing some six weeks after he says she disappeared.

2001 – An inquest recommended a ‘known person’ be charged with Mrs Dawson’s murder, but the Director of Public Prosecutions later says the evidence was not tested because no witnesses were called.

2003 – A second inquest calls witnesses and recommends a known person be charged with murder, referring the matter to the DPP. Again, no charges are laid.

2010 – NSW Police announce a $100,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction.

2014 – The reward is doubled to $200,000.

2015 – Strikeforce Scriven is established and the Dawsons’ entire Bayview block is mapped.

April 2018 – Scriven detectives request the DPP review their brief of evidence.

May – The Australian newspaper releases The Teacher’s Pet podcast about Mrs Dawson’s disappearance. It is eventually downloaded 60 million times worldwide.

July – NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller admits police ‘dropped the ball’ in the 1980s investigation.

September – Police dig up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple shared at the time of Mrs Dawson’s disappearance but don’t find remains or any items of interest.

December 5 – Chris Dawson is arrested on the Gold Coast and spends the night in a watch-house.

December 6 – Dressed in a polo shirt, shorts and thongs, the then 70-year-old is extradited to Sydney, where he’s charged with his first wife’s murder and appears in court via video link. His lawyer, Greg Walsh, says he ‘strenuously asserts his innocence’.

December 17 – Dawson is bailed to live back in his Queensland home.

August 8, 2019 – Magistrate Michael Allen warns that some reporting of the case could affect a fair trial, saying: ‘Someone would have to be living in a cave or be naive in the extreme to perhaps ignore the potential for unfairness to a person who receives this level of media scrutiny.’

February 11-13, 2020 – Magistrate Jacqueline Trad hears evidence before committing Dawson to stand trial for murder.

April 3 – Dawson formally pleads not guilty to murder, with his lawyers flagging an application for a permanent stay of proceedings.

September 25 – Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton grants Dawson only a nine-month halt to allow the ‘unrestrained and clamorous’ public commentary about his wife’s disappearance to abate before his trial.

June 11, 2021 – The Court of Criminal Appeal refuses a permanent halt to proceedings.

April 8, 2022 – The High Court backs the lower courts’ decisions not to permanently halt proceedings.

May 2 – Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones orders the trial to proceed before a judge alone following an application by Dawson.

May 9-July 11 – The trial is heard by Justice Ian Harrison, with prosecutors alleging Dawson was violent and abusive towards his wife and killed her to have an unfettered relationship with JC. Dawson’s lawyers pointed to various witnesses claiming to have seen Mrs Dawson alive and well after January 1982.

August 30 – Dawson is found guilty of murder.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

By Australian Associated Press 

Justice Ian Harrison found it was beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson (above with Chris Dawson on her wedding day) did not leave her home in Bayview voluntarily

Justice Ian Harrison found it was beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson (above with Chris Dawson on her wedding day) did not leave her home in Bayview voluntarily

Countless photographers waited outside the court as the judge handed down his verdict

Countless photographers waited outside the court as the judge handed down his verdict

The judge also said one of Dawson’s relatives, his brother-in-law Ross Hutchins, had falsified an alleged sighting he had made of Lynette at Gladesville, just months after her disappearance, and that the sighting was a ‘fabrication’.

Discounting all other alleged sightings, His Honour said, ‘I am satisfied that none of the sightings were genuine.  

‘She was not mentally unstable, she adored her children…she was still hopeful. She was still talking in affectionate terms about her unfaithful husband. 

‘That she would step from her husband’s car … and decide to evaporate forever is not a reasonable possibility. The proposition is ludicrous.’  

Lyn Dawson's sister-in-law Merilyn and brother Greg Simms arrive in her favourite colour of pink at the court on Tuesday

Lyn Dawson’s sister-in-law Merilyn and brother Greg Simms arrive in her favourite colour of pink at the court on Tuesday

Lynette Dawson (above with Shanelle) had found it hard to conceive and doted on her two daughters to Chris Dawson, who were four and two when she vanished in 1982

Lynette Dawson (above with Shanelle) had found it hard to conceive and doted on her two daughters to Chris Dawson, who were four and two when she vanished in 1982

Dawson is seen outside the NSW Supreme Court before he was found guilty of murder

Dawson is seen outside the NSW Supreme Court before he was found guilty of murder

While calmly reading out his judgement, Justice Harrison said he was willing to believe ‘beyond reasonable doubt that Chris Dawson’s evidence he had received a call from Lyn at a swimming pool on the day after his wife’s disappearance was ‘a lie’. 

‘I do not accept Lynette Dawson … would continue to remain in contact with the very person who was … the reason for her departure,’ Justice Harrison said. ‘The contention … is simply absurd.’ 

The judge described the evidence of the schoolgirl babysitter JC, with whom Dawson had an affair as mostly reliable, and that her account of being groomed for a sexual relationship as believable.

He said that Dawson’s contention that his sexual relationship with JC did not recommence in 1982 until April of that year ‘cannot be true’.  

The accused's older brother Peter in a scuffle in a media scrum outside the court as he arrives with Chris Dawson and lawyer Greg Walsh on Tuesday

The accused’s older brother Peter in a scuffle in a media scrum outside the court as he arrives with Chris Dawson and lawyer Greg Walsh on Tuesday

‘She had been swept up … and was confused and conflicted,’ he said and found that JC’s evidence had not been corrupted by her subsequent divorce from him years later. 

Justice Harrison said the crown had established beyond reasonable doubt that Dawson determined he would leave the relationship with his wife and enter a substituted relationship with JC.

‘I am satisfied that Mr Dawson was obsessed with JC and with the fear of losing her. He decided he would end his marriage and move on with JC,’ he said.

‘That does not stand alone to prove that he murdered his wife.’

He said he found the account by Lynette’s next door neighbour, Julie Andrew, of seeing Dawson pushing Lyn up against a trampoline and screaming at her shortly before she went missing to be true. 

Accused murderer Chris Dawson (above) at his Sunshine Coast home on Sunday before he flew to Sydney to be found guilty of the murder of his first wife, Lynette

Accused murderer Chris Dawson (above) at his Sunshine Coast home on Sunday before he flew to Sydney to be found guilty of the murder of his first wife, Lynette

The trial heard Chris Dawson was 'besotted ' with JC, the schoolgirl babysitter who became his second wife and testified at his trial about his controlling behaviour

The trial heard Chris Dawson was ‘besotted ‘ with JC, the schoolgirl babysitter who became his second wife and testified at his trial about his controlling behaviour

The family of Lynette Dawson has been asking for years about her disappearance and whatever the verdict on Tuesday, they still hold out hopes of her remains being found

The family of Lynette Dawson has been asking for years about her disappearance and whatever the verdict on Tuesday, they still hold out hopes of her remains being found

Lynette Dawson with Chris in the early years of their romance when she had fallen in love with the football star and they planned a life together which would be cut short in 1982

Lynette Dawson with Chris in the early years of their romance when she had fallen in love with the football star and they planned a life together which would be cut short in 1982

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