He Killed Wife, Replaced Her With Kids' Teen Babysitter

Chris Dawson sentenced to 24 years in wife Lynette's 1982 murder in Australia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2022 9:40 AM CDT
Updated Dec 2, 2022 7:04 AM CST
1982 Murder Revisited in Hit Podcast Is Finally Solved
Chris and Lynette Dawson on their wedding day.   (New South Wales Supreme Court)
UPDATE Dec 2, 2022 7:04 AM CST

A true-crime podcast helped bring about his conviction. Now Australian Chris Dawson has been sentenced to 24 years for the 1982 murder of his wife Lynette, whom he seemingly replaced with a 16-year-old student at the high school where he taught. In sentencing the 74-year-old on Friday, Justice Ian Harrison said Dawson's "self-indulgent brutality" was "neither spontaneous nor unavoidable," per the BBC. He said it was likely Dawson would die in prison as he will not be eligible for parole for 18 years. And that's apparently only if he reveals the location of Lynette's body. A new law in New South Wales denies parole to convicted murderers who refuse to reveal victims' remains, the BBC notes. Dawson's lawyer said Dawson maintains his innocence and would likely appeal.

Aug 30, 2022 9:40 AM CDT

One of Australia's longest-running cold cases, which fascinated tens of millions of listeners of a true-crime podcast, has been solved. Following a three-month trial by judge, Chris Dawson was convicted Tuesday in the 1982 murder of his wife, Lynette. Dawson claimed Lynette walked out on the family, including two young kids, that January, and that he spoke with her in the weeks following. But prosecutors said the 74-year-old former high school teacher killed his wife so he could carry on a relationship with a 16-year-old student who served as his children's babysitter. The Teacher's Pet, a podcast released in 2018, revealed testimony claiming Dawson had a sexual relationship with the student identified as JC, who moved in with him around the time Lynette vanished.

Several witnesses claimed to have seen Lynette after 1982, but Justice Ian Harrison dismissed each claim as mistaken or false, reports CNN. The judge, who questioned why a woman "supposedly desperate to leave her marriage" would provide updates to her husband on the "status of her decision to leave," also concluded "Dawson's reported telephone conversations with Lynette Dawson after January 1982 are lies." Though no body was ever found, "the whole of the circumstantial evidence satisfies me that Lynette Dawson is dead, that she died on or about Jan. 8, 1982, and that she did not voluntarily abandon her home," Harrison said, per the AP. He cited testimony from the former student, who wed Dawson in 1984 before exiting the marriage in 1991.

The court heard that Dawson confessed his love to JC during a driving lesson and the pair soon began having regular sex in his car. At that point, Dawson realized "he could not remain married, yet still maintain his ever more intense relationship with [JC]," Harrison said, per CNN. He added that "the only rational inference" was that Lynette died as "the result of a conscious and voluntary act committed by Mr. Dawson with the intention of causing her death." Defense lawyer Greg Walsh said Dawson, who faces a possible life sentence, maintains "his absolute innocence of the crime" and would appeal. Lynette's brother, Greg Simms, instead appealed for him "to finally do the decent thing and allow us to bring Lyn home to a peaceful rest," per the AP. (Read more cold cases stories.)

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