AN Aussie judge has jailed the husband of a Sydney woman whose disappearance in 1982 has been the subject of a popular crime podcast.
Chris Dawson, 74, was sentenced to 24 years behind bars after the Teacher’s Pet podcast and media interest helped build evidence against him in connection with Lyn Dawson’s murder 40 years ago.
A judge ruled Dawson killed his wife so he could continue his relationship with his teenage lover and babysitter.
Mrs Dawson was just 33 when she vanished from her Sydney home.
Her body is still missing and all the evidence in the trial was circumstantial.
A 2003 inquest had previously recommended charging Dawson with his wife’s murder, but prosecutors declined, citing a lack of evidence.
But the cold case against him was only reopened after the 2018 podcast put pressure on the police to revisit their investigation.
Dawson was eventually convicted in August of killing Lyn to cover up a secret affair with his babysitter after a seven-week trial with new witnesses and evidence.
He was tried without a jury due to the publicity surrounding the case – during which a series of chilling clues emerged.
Previously, NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison said there was “no doubt” that housewife Lyn died some time around 8 January 1982 “as a result of a conscious or voluntary act committed by Christopher Dawson”.
And he later threw out claims Lyn had abandoned her husband and children to vanish without a trace or that she had been spotted alive and had tried to contact her husband.
Sentencing him at New South Wales Supreme Court this week, Harrison said: “Dawson has enjoyed until his arrest 36 years in the community, unimpeded by the taint of a conviction for killing his wife, or by any punishment for doing so,” he said.
“In a practical sense, his denial of responsibility for that crime has benefited him in obvious ways.”
Dawson has maintained his innocence and says he was not involved in his wife’s disappearance.
His lawyer confirmed that he would appealing the sentence.
Dawson will be eligible for parole in 2040 – when he is 92 years old – and the judge has acknowledged it was likely he would die in prison.
In a statement, Greg Simms, Lynette Dawson’s brother, said the family welcomed the sentence.
“We respect and thank Judge Harrison for his sentence, and hope Chris Dawson lives a long life in order to serve that sentence,” he said.
In a previous hearing, the 74-year-old former Sydney rugby league player and teacher was accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body because he was “infatuated” with one of his teenage babysitter.
Dawson had entered a consensual relationship with his babysitter, known only as JC, and had repeatedly asked her to marry him.
JC moved into his home within days of her disappearance and they pair eventually married in 1984 and split six years later.
Dawson allegedly tried to sell his Bayview home without his wife’s permission, briefly moving to Queensland to start a new life with JC before going back to Sydney.
Judge Ian Harrison was told Dawson considered hiring a hitman to get rid of his wife, but decided against it because “innocent people would be hurt”.
Dawson, who now lives in Queensland with his third wife, bizarrely claimed he had spotted Lyn in the background of an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow filmed in Padstow, Cornwall.
Much of the podcast The Teacher’s Pet, produced by The Australian, focuses on Chris Dawson’s relationship with his former pupil, known as JC, with whom he started a relationship when she was just 16.
Dawson moved the schoolgirl into the family home to look after his and Lyn’s two children while she was still alive.
The husband announced that his student would be living with them, which reportedly sparked a fierce row.
In an interview with police from 1998 which appears on the podcast, JC describes how Dawson allegedly took advantage of her, and how she eventually agreed to marry him after he kept hassling her.
JC started sharing Dawson’s bed just two days after Lyn disappeared.
He took six weeks to report his wife was missing, explaining her absence by suggesting she had joined a religious cult.
Chris has always maintained his innocence in his wife’s murder[/caption]
The former teacher and rugby player was arrested in December 2018[/caption]