An Australian teacher has been found guilty of murdering his wife 40 years ago while having an affair with his teenage student.Christopher Dawson, 74,
An Australian teacher has been found guilty of murdering his wife 40 years ago while having an affair with his teenage student.
Christopher Dawson, 74, was convicted in the judge-only trial of killing wife Lynette in January 1982, after the hit true crime podcast series Teacher’s Pet triggered renewed public interest in the case.
A 2003 inquest had recommended charging Christopher Dawson with his wife’s murder but prosecutors declined, citing a lack of evidence.
Australian teacher Christopher Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife 40 years ago while having an affair with his teenage student
The former teacher was convicted in the judge-only trial of killing wife Lynette in January 1982 (pictured together)
Today, Supreme Court judge Ian Harrison found Dawson deliberately killed his wife to pursue a relationship with a teenage student he was having an affair with, known as JC, and who had babysat and lived in his Sydney home.
Dawson maintained his wife had left him and subsequently telephoned him to say she needed space, but the judge called his defence fanciful and riddled with lies.
The judge noted there was no record of Lynette contacting family or friends since her disappearance, nor of making credit card payments or working.
Dawson’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, told reporters outside court that his client would appeal the conviction.
‘I can confirm that it’s probable of course that he will appeal against his conviction,’ he said outside of court.
‘Mr Dawson has always asserted, and he still does, his absolute innocence of the crime of which he’s been convicted.
Dawson deliberately killed his wife to pursue a relationship with a teenage student he was having an affair with (pictured together), court ruled
‘And he will continue to assert that innocence. And he’ll certainly appeal.’
Police charged Dawson with Lynette’s murder in 2018, four months after the final episode of Teacher’s Pet, which criticised the law enforcement response to her disappearance and featured multiple witness interviews.
Harrison, the judge, noted that the case against Dawson had been wholly circumstantial since Lynette’s body had never been found and there was no known cause, location or exact time of death.
But the combination of small pieces of evidence, including inconsistencies in Dawson’s defence, was persuasive and compelling, he said.
‘I am left in no doubt, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, that the only inference is that Lynette Dawson died … as a result of a conscious and voluntary act by Mr Dawson with the effect of causing her death.’
When police reopened their investigation they said only that it was because new witnesses had come forward, but media reports said law enforcement sources confirmed they were motivated by publicity generated by the Teachers Pet, which has been downloaded 30 million times.
Dawson’s defence argued that the podcast, produced by News Corp’s The Australian newspaper, denied him a fair trial because of the way he was depicted.
Harrison agreed the podcast had cast Dawson in a negative light but said he did not factor that into his verdict.
Dawson, who was on bail, was taken into custody while he awaits sentencing.
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.
Chris Dawson arrives at the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday to hear the verdict from Justice Harrison on his trial for the murder of his wife Lyn in 1982
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
‘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 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 after the verdict was handed down.
‘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.’