For 40 years Chris Dawson maintained his wife was missing - but now he has been convicted of her murder after a popular podcast sparked a new police probe.
Dawson, 74, faces a possible life sentence after being found guilty of murdering his wife Lynette, whose body has never been found.
The case has gathered interest way beyond Australia, and Dawson opted for a trial by judge instead of a jury in the New South Wales state Supreme Court. This was due to the publicity from The Teacher’s Pet podcast, which 60 million people have listened to since 2018.
But what happened to Lynette Dawson, and what impact did the podcast have on the case? Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Chris Dawson?
Dawson was a former professional rugby league footballer and played for a team in Sydney called the Newtown Jets during the 1970s.
He met his wife Lynette in 1965 when they were both 16, they married five years later and had two children.
After his playing career he became a PE teacher.
Dawson was in a sexual relationship with a teenage former student and babysitter for his two daughters, identified in court as JC.
The judge found he killed his wife because he feared losing his lover.
Dawson and JC married in 1984 and moved to Queensland, and separated in 1990.
News site Perthnow.com reports that chillingly Dawson placed an ad on 27 March, 1982 in The Daily telegraph saying: “Lyn I love you, we all miss you. Please ring. We want you home. Chris.”
After Dawson, who maintains his innocence, was convicted Lynette’s brother, Greg Simms, appealed to his brother-in-law to reveal the location of her body.
“The journey is not complete. She is still missing. We still need to bring her home. We would 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,” Mr Simms said.
What happened to Lynette Dawson?
The 33-year-old disappeared in January 1982. She had arranged to meet her mum for lunch on 9 January but never arrived, she had spoken on the phone to her mum the night before while she was at home, on Sydney’s north beaches, with her husband
Dawson officially reported Lynette missing on 18 February.
He claims he dropped Lynette off at a bus stop on 9 January 1982, and that she called him later that day to say she needed “some time away”.
In an appeal in 2013 which offered a $200,000 reward for information, a statement from New South Wales Police said: “At the time of her disappearance, Lynette was the loving mother of two daughters – a two-year-old and a four-year-old
“She was also extremely close to her parents and three siblings.
“We think it’s highly unlikely that Lynette staged her own disappearance. She had so much to live for.”
During the court case Justice Ian Harrison found that Dawson killed his wife in 1982.
The judge found Dawson killed his wife because he feared losing his lover.
Mr Harrison rejected the possibility she abandoned her husband and children to vanish without a trace.
He also dismissed claims she had been seen alive after January 1982 or that she had contacted her husband.
“The whole of the circumstantial evidence satisfies me that Lynette Dawson is dead, that she died on or about January 8 1982 and that she did not voluntarily abandon her home,” the judge said.
.The judge rejected the idea that she had left with only the clothes on her back.
“The proposition is ludicrous,” he said.
In his reasons for the guilty verdict, Mr Harrison found that Dawson had lied about phone calls he claimed to have received from his wife after her disappearance.
What impact did the podcast have?
The Teacher’s Pet podcast set out a circumstantial case that Dawson had murdered his wife Lynette.
Starting in 2018 it was published by The Australian newspaper and was hosted by Hedley Thomas, a journalist, and produced by Slade Gibson, a former guitarist with Savage Garden.
The Guardian reported the podcast has racked up close to 60 million downloads and reached number one in podcast charts across the world.
A few months after the podcast aired Dawson was charged.
Hedley Thomas was among those who gave evidence at Dawson’s trial, and said he only wanted justice for Lynette and her family.
“And so justice for Lyn meant to you, didn’t it, the prosecution of Christopher Dawson,” defence barrister Pauline David asked.
“I think that is a fair call, yes,” Thomas replied.
He told the court he believed Dawson was the only suspect but denied he engaged in a campaign to incite prejudice against him.