Warning: This article deals with the topic of domestic violence and sexual assault. It may be triggering for survivors of abuse and some readers.
“I find you guilty.” This is what Justice Ian Harrison said to Chris Dawson on August 30. According to the ABC, Harrison convicted Dawson of murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, in an attack 40 years ago.
As Harrison said, “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson died on or about 8 January, 1982, as a result of a conscious and voluntary act committed by Mr Dawson with the intention of causing her death.”
Several months later, on December 2, Harrison sentenced Dawson to 24 years in prison. He was also given a non-parole period of 18 years. Dawson is currently 74 years old.
“Mr Dawson is not old by contemporary standards, but the reality is he will not live to reach the end of his non-parole period, or will alternatively, by reason of his deteriorating cognitive condition and physical capacity, become seriously disabled before then even if he does,” said Harrison.
“I recognise that the unavoidable prospect is that Mr Dawson will probably die in jail.”
Now, if you’re not a big murder podcast junkie, you might not know why this situation is such a big deal. In fact, you might not know anything else about Dawson’s infamous case. So, to get you up to speed, here’s everything else you need to know:
Who Is Chris Dawson?
As per Sporting News, Dawson played rugby union for the Eastern Suburbs and rugby league for the Newtown Jets. Nevertheless, these facts have been rightfully overshadowed by the fact that he became a teacher at Cromer High School in 1979 and the events that would follow. In an article by The Sydney Morning Herald, the publication outlined that Dawson groomed a 16-year-old named Joanne Curtis in 1980.
Two years later, Dawson’s wife went missing. It took him six weeks to report this fact. Moreover, during this very same year, Curtis moved in with him.
In 2000, the police discovered a woman’s pink cardigan that appeared to have been slashed at Dawson’s Bayview property. Since then, there have been multiple attempts to have Dawson jailed for murdering his wife. The bureaucratic proceedings that eventually led to Dawson’s conviction started in 2018.
Chris Dawson and The Teacher’s Pet
The Teacher’s Pet was a 2018 podcast that made Dawson’s heinous actions a cultural phenomenon. During the very same year that it dropped, the ABC revealed that it had 28 million downloads. Stitcher’s podcast description says that the program’s host, Hedley Thomas, deep-dived into the details of this case and uncovered new evidence. In 2018, this podcast won the Gold Walkie for being “a masterclass in investigative journalism.”
Moreover, a senior police source told Fairfax Media that The Teacher’s Pet was “100 per cent” the reason the force began doggedly pursuing this case again.
If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) — the National Sexual Assault, Domestic, and Family Violence Counselling Service. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.