Chris Dawson will finally face trial accused of murdering his wife before marrying his teenage student as he fails in bid to scrap the case over sensational ‘Teacher’s Pet’ publicity
- Chris Dawson, 71, failed to get case permanently stayed and avoid murder trial
- Lynette Dawson, then 33, vanished from Sydney’s northern beaches in 1982
- He was allegedly in a sexual relationship with teenager Joanne Curtis at the time
- Dawson claimed he couldn’t get a fair trial after the publicity his case attracted
Former teacher Chris Dawson will face trial for his wife’s murder after failing to permanently halt criminal proceedings due to the negative pre-trial publicity.
The 72-year-old had argued his chances for a fair trial were irreparably damaged by extensive pre-trial publicity including the Teacher’s Pet podcast.
The passage of almost four decades since his wife’s alleged murder in January 1982 should also render any trial unfair, he argued.
Dawson pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, in Bayview in Sydney’s north on or about January 8, 1982.
Chris Dawson (left) is charged with murdering his wife Lynette (right) who disappeared from Sydney’s northern beaches nearly 40 years ago
The NSW Supreme Court in September 2020 granted a nine-month stay on a trial but denied Dawson’s bid to permanently halt proceedings.
Dawson appealed that decision to the Court of Criminal Appeal, which on Friday said permanent stays should be reserved for the ‘most extreme cases’.
That occurred where a trial judge could do nothing during the trial to relieve the unfairness, the appeal court said in a written summary.
While it agreed the prejudice to Mr Dawson caused by the pre-trial publicity and delay in this case was ‘very serious’, it could be ‘remedied or sufficiently ameliorated by careful directions which the judge at the trial will give to the jury’, the court said.
Dawson argued his chances for a fair trial were irreparably damaged by extensive pre-trial publicity including a podcast
The former teacher and Newtown Jets rugby league player has repeatedly claimed Ms Dawson is alive and that several people have seen her since she vanished from their northern beaches home in January 1982
Chief Justice Tom Bathurst also noted that fairness toward the accused was a strong consideration but not the only one in deciding whether a trail proceeds.
The public interest of the community in bringing those charged with serious criminal offences to trial must also be taken into account, he said.
The court’s full reasons for allowing the trail were suppressed.
Evidence and submissions made in the appeal were also shielded by a court order.