A case that captured the attention of millions, via popular podcast The Teacher's Pet, has finally reached a conclusion: with a judge ruling that Australian rugby player-turned-PE-teacher, Chris Dawson, is guilty of murdering his wife, Lynette, who disappeared in 1982. The court heard how Chris was motivated to kill his spouse after becoming obsessed with one of his students (who also babysat their two daughters), known as JC, who moved in days after Lynette's disappearance.
Chris has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is expected to appeal the verdict. He has claimed that Lynette left him and their children in order to join a religious group.
Evidence presented in court was circumstantial and Lynette's body has still never been found, yet Justice Ian Harrison said everything shown had been "persuasive and compelling". Two previous coronial inquests ruled that Lynette was tragically murdered, yet a lack of sufficient evidence meant nobody was convicted until now.
While Lynette's disappearance happened some forty years ago, Chris was only charged in 2018, thanks to this renewed interest in the case following the podcast's release (The Teacher's Pet, by award-winning journalist Hedley Thomas, has been downloaded more than 60 million times globally and put forth previously unheard evidence).
When summarising the case, the judge pointed out that even Lynette's contact lenses were left in the house following her disappearance, and branded some parts of Chris' defence as 'fanciful'.
Speaking about Chris' apparent obsession with JC, Justice Harrison told the New South Wales Supreme Court, "I'm satisfied that the prospect that he would lose [JC] so distressed, frustrated, and ultimately overwhelmed him that... Mr Dawson resolved to kill his wife."
Lynette's brother, Greg Simms, said (via the BBC) that this overdue verdict has confirmed what they as a family have long suspected to be true, "She loved her family and never left them of her own accord. Instead her trust was betrayed by a man she loved."
Greg added a plea to Chris to reveal where Lynette's body is, so that she may finally be laid to rest, "Finally do the decent thing [...] allow us to bring Lynette home to a peaceful rest, showing her some dignity she deserves."
Our thoughts are with Lynette's family during this very upsetting time.
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