A cunning husband infatuated with his teenage lover and babysitter laid out a number of dominoes leading to the murder of Lynette Dawson in 1982, a judge has been told.
In the NSW supreme court on Tuesday, crown prosecutor, Craig Everson SC, argued that Christopher Michael Dawson, now 73, had killed his wife on 8 or 9 January 1982 after numerous attempts to start a relationship with his former high school student, known as JC, had failed.
“By now the crown contends that the accused had his dominoes all lined up and they were ready to fall,” Everson said during closing submissions.
Dawson was alleged to have tried in four different ways to get out of his marriage before resorting to murder, including moving into a flat in Manly, Sydney with JC, hiring a third party to murder his wife, selling the matrimonial home in Bayview, and moving with JC to Queensland to start a new life.
All of these plots failed, Everson said, meaning a husband who was infatuated and besotted with his teenage lover reached a critical point of desperation and resorted to murder.
Dawson is accused of murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, and disposing of her body in January 1982, so he could have an unfettered relationship with a student at his former high school and the family babysitter, known as JC.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charge and denies any involvement in Lynette Dawson’s disappearance.
Justice Ian Harrison was on Tuesday taken through events from when JC started babysitting for the Dawsons in 1980 until Lynette Dawson’s disappearance in early January 1982.
Dawson’s obsession with JC caused him to ward off and threaten teenage boys who were attracted to her. He publicly attended her high school formal as her date, the court heard.
By 25 December 1981, Dawson had slid so far into moral turpitude that he had returned from his aborted trip to Queensland with JC and hidden the fact that he was back from his wife, instead staying at his twin brother Paul Dawson’s home, Everson said.
Dawson was alleged to have abandoned his family on New Year’s Eve 1981 to spend time with JC, and grew upset when JC wanted to end the relationship in early January 1982, flying to Southwest Rocks, in NSW, for a holiday with her friends.
The court was told the crown’s case is that at a marriage counselling session on 8 January, the day of the alleged murder, Dawson purportedly put his hands around his wife’s throat, telling her that if this did not work, he would get rid of her.
The crown contends Dawson disposed of the body on the night of 9 January after a meeting with family friend Philip Day and Lynette Dawson’s mother, Helena Simms, at Northbridge Baths.
At the baths, the court heard, Dawson claimed he received a call from his wife saying she needed time away. However, Everson argued that the call was a fabrication, saying no one had actually seen him take the call or heard what was said.
Dawson was alleged to have driven to Southwest Rocks through the night of 10 January, arriving there the next day and driving back with JC to Sydney where she moved into the Bayview home.
This haste for the trip so soon after Lynette Dawson vanished showed Dawson’s enthusiasm for JC and was inconsistent with his claims his wife would be back home in a couple of days, Everson said.
Dawson’s version of events, that Lynette Dawson had simply left home without warning, was inconceivable, the crown said. Evidence showed, the court was told, she was looking forwards to her future after marriage counselling, and that she had remained committed to her “Chrissy” even while he was spending time with JC in late 1981.
Everson urged the court to find that JC was a credible witness, despite Dawson’s legal team arguing that she had made up allegations against him due to an acrimonious custody battle when the couple separated in 1990.
While JC had only gone to the police in 1990 with allegations that Dawson had wanted to hire a hitman to kill his wife, she had also made these same claims to her friends and Lynette Dawson’s family at the time, the court was told.
“The conduct of [JC] and the disclosures that she made to those people are consistent with a person coming out of a controlling relationship who was scared and talking about what she knew,” Everson said.
The trial continues.