Lynette was born Lynette Simms in 1948 in Australia – I believe she grew up in Sydney. When she was 16 (around 1965), she met a teen named Chris Dawson. He was also 16. They met at a high-school function (Lyn was a student at Sydney Girls’ High and Chris attended Sydney Boys’ High) and dated for five years, before marrying at St Judes Church in Randwick in Sydney on March 26 1970.
Chris has a twin brother, Paul, and the two have been extremely close all their lives. Between 1972 to 1976, Chris and Paul played professional Rugby League for a Sydney team, the Newtown Jets.
In 1975, Chris and Lyn purchased vacant land at 2 Gilwinga Drive, Bayview. They pay $31,000 for the land and $70,000 to build what will become their family home. You can see the house here.
Just for interest, I believe the house last sold in 2017 (years after the Dawson’s left) for $2.4m. Because of the insane property boom, it is now valued at around $4m.
In 1976, Chris and Paul appeared on a documentary on the Australian ABC called Chequerboard. In the program, they discussed their close bond as twins and how it affected their lives.
The couple had two daughters together, Sherryn and Shanelle in 1977 and 1979.
After Chris and Paul stopped playing rugby, both got jobs as high school teachers, specifically in physical education.
There is a very comprehensive podcast series that solely focuses on this case called Teacher’s Pet, and that podcast alleges that both Chris and Paul were known to groom female students.
Chris is said to have groomed a student at Cromer High School, Joanne Curtis. Their affair allegedly began in 1981. Chris was aged around 34 and Joanne was 16. Chris introduced Joanne to Lynette and his daughters as a prospective babysitter. I believe that Joanne was actually a live-in babysitter for a time.
One neighbour saw Joanne swimming topless in Lyn’s pool and remarked to his wife that ‘Chris was fucking the babysitter’.
“I went topless, that’s just the way I was,” Joanne told an inquest that was held into Lynette’s disappearance.
Joanne has since said that she and Chris used to meet up a hotel called the Time and Tide Hotel, which was just 700m or 230 feet from the school where Chris worked and where Joanne was a pupil.
“(We) sometimes went to a Manly park … just to have sex, every week.”
Joanne has said that she and Chris used to spend time with his brother Paul and his ‘girlfriends’. These girls were students at another local school, The Forest High School. Joanne later spoke about a rivalry that existed between Paul and Chris.
“There was competitiveness there, but I didn’t know about any other girls with Chris at all,” Joanne said.
“Chris … was the one living up to his brother. I believe Paul was leading Chris.
“Chris was very impulsive and quick to get angry. Paul was much calmer and self-controlled.”
Joanne has said that towards the end of 1981, Chris became ‘very cold’ towards Lyn.
“He used to sing songs to her that had double meanings, that he didn’t care about her, that she was physically unattractive,” she said.
“Just digging away at her, singing songs that were hurtful to wear her down, just upset her.
“I wasn’t looking at her reactions. I wasn’t sensitive to what she was going through obviously.”
Joanne was asked during an inquest into this case about a time when “Lyn caught you and him together.” Joanne said it had happened once when she was sitting on his lap in a kind of “children’s game”.
“She confronted him and we were standing in a triangle and she was talking to him, ‘what are you doing?’
“She was angry, angry and surprised really.”
At some point in 1981, Lyn began working part-time at a child care centre in Warriewood in Sydney. She told her friend from work, Anna Grantham, that Chris had been “violent” towards her and on one occasion pulled her hair and shoved her into mud near the pool. She said she was gasping for air.
A neighbour to the Dawsons’ Julie Andrew said that in October 1981, she looked over the fence to see Lyn and Chris arguing. Chris was shaking his wife by the shoulders as Lyn clutched one of her daughters. Lyn later told Julie the argument was about Joanne living in the home.
Around the time of this argument, Chris had a nose operation in hospital. He told Lyn that he did not want her to visit him. Lyn’s mother Helena did go to the hospital however, and Joanne was found sitting next to Chris.
In November 1981, Joanne ended up moving out of the Dawson home after Lyn confronted her about the affair with Chris. She moved a few doors down, into the home of Paul Dawson and his wife Marilyn.
In December 1981, Chris put a deposit down on a unit in Manly. that he intended to share with Joanne. After he did this, he called his other brother Peter (who was a lawyer I believe) to ask for advice about moving out and if it would affect any divorce settlement. Peter told Chris he would be “financially penalised” if he moved out with Joanne.
A friend of Lyn’s saw her just before Christmas 1981. Roslyn McLoughlin later told a court Lyn had been “unhappy” when she last saw her and had bruising on her arm and thigh. Lyn pleaded with mothers in her tennis group to come back to her home, but they couldn’t because they were busy.
On December 23, 1981, Lyn was waiting for Chris to pick her up from work, but he never showed up. She took a taxi home to find a “goodbye” note from Chris asking her not to “paint too black a picture of him to the children”. Lyn was invited to her sibling’s house for Christmas but chose to stay home to see if her husband returned.
Chris and Joanne had packed up and decided to move to Queensland to start a new life together. They got to the NSW/Queensland border before they had to turn around because Joanne got cold feet and felt unwell. They got back to Sydney on Christmas Day, December 25. They went to Paul and Marilyn’s house and didn’t tell Lyn that they were back. They slept in the gymnasium of the school where Paul was a teacher.
Chris ended up going home to Lyn on December 26. He had taken Joanne back to her mother’s house. He visited her most days that she was there.
On December 31, Chris told Lyn that he had made plans to attend a New Year’s Eve party on a yacht at Pittwater alone. Lyn wanted to go with him and their daughter, but Chris said no. There was no yacht party, Joanne and Chris spent NYE together in his car.
Between January 1 and January 3, Lyn and her daughters traveled to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs to stay with her parents.
On January 4, Lyn’s coworkers have said they saw more bruising on her. She told them that she and Chris would be going to marriage counselling.
Lynette was last known to be alive on 8 January 1982. She spoke to her mother on this day and the two arranged to meet the following day, January 9 at the Northbridge Baths. During the call, Lyn told her mother that Chris had made her a “lovely drink” and that the counselling session went well. She said “everything is going to work out”. In a diary entry, Helena wrote: “Rang Lyn, sounded half sozzled, said all was well.”
Lyn did not show up. What happened to her after that phone call is largely unknown.
On January 9, according to Chris, Lyn woke up early to do washing and prepare lunch for her daughters. He said that she was upset about her behaviour and apologised to him for how she had been acting. He said that he drove Lyn to a Mona Vale bus stop so that she could go shopping. He then took their two kids swimming at Northbridge Baths, where Lyn was scheduled to meet him later that afternoon, but she never arrived.
Helena has said that she showed up to the baths to meet Lyn as arrange and that she was nowhere to be seen. Helena said that Chris was ‘agitated’ that day. He asked a friend to drive Helena and the kids back to Helena’s home.
On January 10, literally days after Lyn disappeared, Chris traveled from his home in Bayview in Sydney to South West Rocks – this is currently a 5 hour one way trip today, so would have been longer then. Joanne was on holiday in South West Rocks at the time (January is Summer in Australia and school is on holiday – she left for her trip on January 2). She has said that she went on this trip because she wanted to get away from Chris for awhile. While she was away, she phoned him every day because “he begged me to. He told me he needed me. It meant someone wanted me.”
Joanne said that when Chris arrived he was ‘nervous and agitated.’
He collected Joanne and took her back to his home in Sydney, where she essentially moved in for good. Joanne has said that Chris told her she had to move into the home as Lyn wasn’t coming back and he needed help with the kids.
Chris told authorities later that Lyn called him on this day and said she needed time to work things out. He called Lyn’s work and told her that she was sick and would need a week off.
Two purchases show up on Lynette Dawson’s bank card statement on January 12, 1982. One for women’s clothing store Katies Narrabeen dated January 12, another for Just Jeans Narrabeen dated January 27. However it’s unclear when the purchases were made. There is no documentation to substantiate the claim.
Chris alleges that his last contact with Lyn was on January 16, 1982.
Despite moving Joanne in, Chris did not report Lyn missing until February 18, 1982 which was SIX weeks after she vanished. Chris told police that he thought Lyn had left following an argument over her spending habits. He said that he had dropped her to a bus stop after she told him that she needed to get away, and that she never returned. He also told police that he thought she may have joined a religious group.
Joanne has since come out and said that when she moved into the home, all of Lyn’s belongings and jewelery were in the house.
Joanne has said that she was ‘cranky” about the situation because she was young and wanted to live a normal teenage life. Joanne has said that Chris told her she had to sort through Lyn’s clothing and put them in plastic bags.
“They were put into a linen cupboard in the hallway,” she said, “they were to be taken over to Lyn’s mother.
On March 27, 1982, Chris placed this ad in the paper: “Lyn I love you, we all miss you. Please ring. We want you home. Chris.”
In August 1982, Chris submitted an “antecedent report” to police. He asked for a court order for the dissolution of his marriage to Lyn on the basis of abandonment. In the documents, he said he was a ‘forlorn, abandoned husband” who tried to find his wife. He tells police the pair experienced marital difficulties due to Lyn’s bank spending.
The court order was granted in October 1982. Chris got all the assets (including the house) as well as custody of the two children.
When friends of Chris and Lyn’s went to visit Chris in 1983, they noticed that Joanne was wearing Lyn’s rings.
In 1984, Chris married Joanne Curtis. She wore Lyn’s rings that had since been resized to fit her. Joanne has said that he proposed many times to her and she finally agreed. Joanne said that on their wedding night, Chris grabbed her around the throat and she became frightened. She has spoken about their wedding day: “Oh my god, what am I doing here… I think I resigned myself that I was not going to get away from him… I don’t feel as though I had a choice”, she said.
The two had a daughter together, Kristen.
She said: “I was 18, I was taking care of two children, having to learn to cook, having to learn to clean, having to learn to be the substitute housekeeper, sex slave, stepmother, babysitter, slave.”
“He was violent. There were some times when I locked myself in one of the bedrooms and he would try to break the door down.
“I didn’t like being there. I didn’t like looking after his children.
“I just wanted to do what people do when they are 18.”
After Kristen was born in 1985, Joanne has said that she was subjected to daily domestic violence. She found it hard to connect with Chris’ two daughters from his marriage with Lyn and that angered him.
“I was only allowed to treat them like little princesses and if I did discipline them he would discipline me and they came to realise I had no authority.
“I was consumed by my own child and the love I had for her. Chris was not happy.”
During one argument that the couple had about this, Chris became so mad that he punched the windscreen of Joanne’s vehicle.
Joanne has spoken about their marriage deteriorated even more once Kristen was born. “He was even more possessive of me and rejected Kristen because he wanted me to himself,” she told the Coroner’s Court.
Paul Dawson and his wife Marilyn moved to Queensland, and Chris packed up his life with Joanne to join them in December 1984. Throughout 1984, Chris managed to get all the joint marital assets that he shared with Lyn to be put into his name only. He sold the house in Bayview in Sydney.
Chris and Joanne built a house in the street next to where Paul and Marilyn lived in Queensland. Their house had a 6 foot high fence and Joanne has said that she basically did not interact with anyone outside the immediate family, except for Paul’s wife Marilyn.
In 1985, one of Lyn’s friends, Sue Strath, wrote to the NSW Ombudsman’s office asking them to intervene over what she felt was the lack of action by police in Lyn’s case. Senior police claimed at the time there was nothing to indicate foul play or suspicion.
In 1987 or 88, the new owners of the home in Bayview visited with solicitor Jeff Linden. Jeff was the solicitor who helped Chris finalise his divorce from Lyn. The owners told they were doing work on the home and Chris had shown up recently, to ask where they were digging.
In 1989, Joanne joined a playgroup with Kristen so that she could meet other mothers.
“His reaction to me going to play group was severe.
“I came back and said this person is allowed to do x, y and z in their marriage …
“He chose what I wore, if I was going somewhere he would have to approve it.”
One night after she made some friends in the playgroup, she went with another mother, Toni Melrose, to a lingerie party.
Joanne said: “I purchased this G-string underwear. I probably used cash I’d squirrelled away.
“I brought it home and put on for Chris and paraded around. He said ‘you are only going to wear it for me’ .
‘”I said ‘I’ll just wear it as underwear as I see fit’.
“He got physically violent at me (saying) ‘you’re not going to wear that for anyone but me’, you don’t have any rights kind of thing, and he ripped it off me.”
“I was frightened.”
In the same year that the lingerie fight happened, Joanne met with a solicitor because she thought her marriage was deteriorating. She said that “the relationship had deteriorated so badly, I feared for my life basically at that time”.
Joanne’s marriage to Chris lasted until 1990. She fought for custody of Kristen and was awarded it.
That same year, police conducted a survey of the former Dawson home in Bayview. They used ground-penetrating radar but no digging was done. They focused on the area around the swimming pool but nothing was found.
In 1991, Lyn’s case was reopened. On January 15, 1991. Chris was interviewed by Queensland police about the case. Senior police officer Paul Hulme was urged to look into the case by his wife’s friend, who was also friends with Lyn and contacted the Ombudsman in 1985 – Sue Strath I assume. When Paul started to look into the case, he found that Lyn’s file was almost empty.
I guess things bumbled along for awhile after this because I found an article from news.com.au that said in 1998, Lyn’s case was reopened AGAIN.
In 1999, Chris and Paul’s phones were tapped but they never talked about Lynette. Paul and Marilyn were questioned by police during this year. Marilyn said that Lyn made “opportunities” for her husband and the babysitter to be together. Marilyn said Lyn did not fight for her marriage to Chris.Lyn made “opportunities” for her husband and the babysitter to be together. Marilyn said Lyn did not fight for her marriage to Chris.
In January 2000, police again searched the Bayview home. They conducted some excavation around the pool area. A woman’s pink cardigan and popper container with 1981 expiry date were both found. The cardigan was in pieces and appeared to have slash marks on it but it could not be confirmed as belonging to Lyn.
In February 2001, the first Coronial Inquest into Lyn’s disappearance was held.
If you’re not familiar with what an inquest is:
A Coronial Inquest is a formal hearing in a courtroom concerning the death or suspected death of a person. The inquest is led by the Coroner to gather more information about whether a death has occurred, and if so, the cause and circumstances of the death.
At the conclusion of the Inquest, Deputy State Coroner Jan Stevenson said that Lynette Dawson was killed by someone she knew and recommended charges being laid. The Director of Public Prosecutions refused to lay charges at the time.
A second inquest was held in 2003. It was recommended again that Chris be charged. The Director of Public Prosecutions again refused to do so. It was claimed there was a lack of evidence.
In 2013, police offered a $100k reward for information in Lynette’s case and it was doubled to $200k in 2014. A third investigation was launched in 2015. Strikeforce Scriven was established at this time and investigators mapped the entire property at Bayview.
Things really started to ramp up in Lyn’s case in 2018. The Teacher’s Pet podcast was launched and it has since had over 60 million downloads. It is so good, definitely check it out.
Lyn and Chris’ daughter Shanelle actually spoke to the podcast. She said that Lyn was not spoken about much after she went missing. ‘We didn’t mention my mother. There was, I don’t really know why, but just this really uncomfortable silence,’ she said.
In July 2018, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller admitted that police had dropped the ball during the original investigation into Lyn’s disappearance.
Police excavated at Bayview again in September 2018. They did not find Lyn.
On December 5, 2018, almost 37 years after she vanished, Chris Dawson was arrested and charged with Lyn’s murder. Chris was extradited from Queensland to Sydney on December 6, and he appeared in court via video link. His lawyer, Greg Walsh, said at the time he ‘strenuously asserts his innocence’.
On December 17, Chris was bailed out and he was able to go to live back in his Queensland home.
On August 8, 2019, Magistrate Michael Allen warned 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.’ I am assuming this is in reference to the podcast.
On April 3, 2020, Chris officially plead not guilty and his lawyers flagged an application for a permanent stay of proceedings.
The legal proceedings dragged on and on. This was definitely not a speedy trial.
On September 25, 2020 Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton granted Chris a a nine-month halt to allow the ‘unrestrained and clamorous’ public commentary about his wife’s disappearance to abate before his trial.
On June 11, 2021, the Court of Criminal Appeal refused Chris’ team a permanent halt to proceedings and on April 8, 2022, the High Court backed this decision. Chris’ argument for this was that there had been an ‘inordinate delay’ in prosecuting him.
On May 2, 2022, Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones ordered the trial to proceed before a judge alone, no jury. This was following a request by Chris.
The prosecution presented a circumstantial case, alleging that Chris’ motive for murder was his desire for an “unfettered relationship” with Joanne. The defence’s argument was that Chris may have “failed” his wife but that she “left and abandoned” the family of her own accord, and suggested she may have created a new life.
The defence seemed to rely heavily on a number of alleged witnesses who claimed to have seen Lynette since her disappearance
Chris chose not to give evidence during the trial.
Sue Strath, Lyn’s friend who made the call to the Ombudsman way back in 1985 was called to give evidence at the trial When she arrived at the court, said: “I am here to see justice done… so let’s hope that happens.”
“I was never interviewed, no one ever came looking for her,” Sue said.
“I just said what’s happened, what have the police done to look for my friend?”
The trial wrapped up on 11 July, 2022.
On August 30, 2022 Justice Harrison delivered his verdict on the case. I was at work and kept refreshing to see if there was an update. It took FIVE hours for him to hand down his findings.
He went into great detail. This is a summary of the findings:
- Justice Harrison said Chris’ claim he received a phone call from Lyn at the Northbridge Baths on January 9, 1982 is “a lie”. “The only evidence that Mr Dawson received a call from Lyn is from Mr Dawson,” he said.”No one apart from Mr Dawson has ever received a phone call from Lyn Dawson since she was last spoken to on Friday January 8, 1982.”
- Justice Harrison said within the context of an emotional and stressful marriage breakdown he “cannot accept that Lynette Dawson would merely have telephoned Mr Dawson to say that she needed more time”. He said it is “fanciful” in his view to suggest such conversations “lacking in detail” ever occurred.”It seems remarkable that a woman that was troubled enough to call… Did not feel the need to inform her husband when her final decision was reached.”
- Justice Harrison said it was concerning to him that Lyn never contacted anybody else besides Dawson.
- Justice Harrison rejected the alleged sightings of Lyn as “wholly unreliable”, and found there was a “most compelling body of evidence” to reject the hypothesis that Lynette Dawson abandoned her family.
- He said that was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson died “as a result of a conscious and voluntary act” by Chris.
During the verdict, Paul could be seen muttering ‘bullshit’.
Chris was found guilty of the murder of Lynette Dawson. He was handcuffed and taken straight into custody.
He has been taken to Silverwater, which is quite a notorious prison in Sydney. This info about the jail is from 7 News:
He will be allowed to keep his underwear – although he can elect to take a prison-issued pair, should he want the complete uniform.
Dawson will be issued a razor, toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. Everything else must be ordered from a list, with a maximum spend of just $100 a week.
Come 3pm, Dawson will enjoy his only hot meal of the day, re-heated from a chill-pack and served in his cell.
Inmates do receive rations through, doled out in either the morning or evening, and that includes milk, cereal and seven slices of bread to go with the sachets of coffee and prison-issue tea bags.
After that, he’ll have time to pass before morning muster at 7am, whiling away the hours in a cell equipped with a steel toilet, kettle or jug and a sandwich maker.
Once Chris has been sentenced, he will be sent to a prison that matches the security classification that he will be given.
Chris’ lawyer Greg Walsh said he would likely apply for his client to be released on bail on the basis that his client wasn’t well.
“He’s been suffering from cognitive problems and also a lot of other physical problems,” he said, adding that Chris had been diagnosed with dementia and had problems with his hips and knees. Chris is now 74 years old.
“Whether I proceed with that application, I don’t know, but the judge hasn’t set a sentencing date yet, so it may well be that I don’t proceed with that application at this stage.”
Greg said that Chris was upset following the verdict and would likely appeal against his conviction.
“Mr Dawson has always asserted – and he still does – his absolute innocence of the crime of which he’s been convicted, and he will continue to assert that innocence, and he will certainly appeal.”
Chris is due to be sentenced on November 11, 2022.
Speculation has ramped up again about where Lyn’s body might be and people hope that Chris may now reveal where he dumped her – I think that is unlikely.
‘This is a milestone in our journey, however she is still missing,’ Lyn’s brother Greg Simms said.
‘We would ask Chris Dawson to find it in himself to do the decent thing and allow us to put Lyn to rest.
After Lyn disappeared and Chris traveled to South West Rocks, that is around 450kms or almost 300 miles. Back then especially, a lot of that road was surrounded by bush. One theory is that Chris dumped Lyn on the NSW Central Coast. I am very familiar with that area and there are SOOOO many places even now to dump someone. I often drive past certain areas and think ‘Imagine how many bodies are in here’.
‘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.’
Chris and Lyn’s daughter Shanelle made a social media post after the verdict was delivered.
She shared a short excerpt from the poem Still Possible, written by David Whyte, which describes understanding that ‘you have secretly been, all along, a goodness that can continue to be a goodness to itself’.
‘It’s still possible in the end to realise why you are here and why you have endured, and why you might have suffered so much,’ the poem continues.
‘So that in the end, you could witness love, miraculously arriving from nowhere, crossing bravely as it does, out of darkness, from that great and spacious stillness inside you.’