Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives as he arrives at Sydney Police Centre at Surry Hills, in Sydney, Thursday, December 6, 2018. Picture: AAP /Dan Himbrechts.
Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives as he arrives at Sydney Police Centre at Surry Hills, in Sydney, Thursday, December 6, 2018. Picture: AAP /Dan Himbrechts.

Chris Dawson’s bid to be released from jail

ACCUSED killer Chris Dawson is expected to make a bail application today after he was sensationally charged with the murder of his first wife Lyn.

Mr Dawson, a former rugby league player and high school teacher, will appear via video link in Sydney's Central Local Court this morning.

The 70-year-old was extradited from the Gold Coast to Sydney on December 6 over the 1982 disappearance of Lyn Dawson, 33, and charged with murder. He will plead not guilty, according to his legal team.

During his first appearance in Sydney Central Local Court, Mr Dawson didn't apply for bail and it was formally refused, on Thursday last week.

The 70-year-old stared down the lens of a camera and told magistrate Robert Williams he was all right when he appeared on screen via video link before the matter was adjourned to today.

Mr Dawson has spent the past week behind bars.

The father-of-three has always maintained his innocence in relation to the suspected murder of Ms Dawson, which police allege took place almost 40 years ago. He has repeatedly claimed she left their Bayview family home, in Sydney's northern beaches, and their two little girls on her own accord to be in a religious cult.

His teenage lover moved in two days later. Ms Dawson's body has never been found.

Outside the court last week, Mr Dawson's lawyer Greg Walsh told reporters he was aware of at least one other case when a mother went missing and was living a new life.

The case he was referring to was actually a member of Mr Dawson's extended family. In a bizarre twist, the former mother-in-law of his brother Peter Dawson walked out on her three children in Sydney 60 years ago.

The woman secretly moved to New Zealand and remarried and died in 2002.

There is no suggestion that Chris Dawson had anything to do with the disappearance of his brother's mother-in-law.

Mr Walsh said it showed it was possible for someone to disappear.

"It's happened before," he said.

Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives as he arrives at Sydney Police Centre at Surry Hills, in Sydney, Thursday, December 6, 2018. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts.
Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives as he arrives at Sydney Police Centre at Surry Hills, in Sydney, Thursday, December 6, 2018. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts.

Peter Dawson told The Daily Telegraph at the time no passport was needed for travel to New Zealand, and suggested Lyn Dawson may have also gone there. He has since suggested to 7 News that Ms Dawson may have been killed by notorious backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat.

"We don't know where Lyn is. I hope she is living happily somewhere in the world," he said.

Mr Walsh said there was evidence that Ms Dawson "was observed by a number of people" after her disappearance. "Unfortunately two of those people are deceased," he said.

"One of the witnesses who died, her daughter gave evidence at the second inquest, and she said that 'my mother told me (and) if she was here today, she'd say she saw Lyn Dawson after her disappearance'.

"Another witness also gave evidence to that effect."

Two coronial inquests, between 2001 and 2003, found that Ms Dawson was murdered by her husband, but he was not charged, with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions ruling there was insufficient evidence.

Mr Walsh last week told reporters there was also evidence of "two very important bank card transactions (made) two or three weeks after her disappearance".

He said the alleged transactions were never investigated by police and that they "should have conducted a proper investigation at the time".

"(That) would have indicated that probably she was alive," he said.

"While it seems most unusual that a lady, with the greatest respect of Lyn Dawson, would disappear and not have any contact with her children … it has happened."

Police released this image of Chris Dawson’s arrest. Picture: NSW Police
Police released this image of Chris Dawson’s arrest. Picture: NSW Police

Mr Dawson was arrested at his daughter's Gold Coast home on December 5 and landed in Sydney the next day for the start of what is set to become one of Australia's most sensational court cases.

Passengers on board the same flight as Mr Dawson shared images of the high-profile accused killer gazing forlornly out of a window.

His lawyer last week said his client was "naturally anxious and stressed about the situation" and that he "doesn't know" if Ms Dawson is alive.

"He seems quite a reserved sort of man to me but he's doing his best in these circumstances (and) holding up," Mr Walsh said.

In a statement, Mr Dawson's family said they expected him to be found not guilty of the murder charge.

Chris Dawson on the flight to Sydney today. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Chris Dawson on the flight to Sydney today. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

In 2015, detectives from the Homicide Squad's Unsolved Homicide Unit established Strike Force Scriven to reinvestigate the circumstances surrounding Ms Dawson's disappearance and suspected murder.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been accessing the task force's new brief of evidence since April this year. The file included two key statements obtained "by the media" from witnesses not previously interviewed, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters last week.

The commissioner said police had "dropped the ball" during the 1980s investigation but that new evidence had helped to "tie pieces of the puzzle together".

"There was additional evidence that was identified and … that has seen the DPP make a positive decision in prosecuting an individual for the murder of Lynette Dawson," Mr Fuller said.

Chris and Lyn Dawson on their wedding day.
Chris and Lyn Dawson on their wedding day.

The major breakthrough in the cold case follows revelations in the The Teacher's Pet podcast series, which topped download charts around the world, by News Corp's The Australian.

Investigative journalist Hedley Thomas uncovered two new witness statements, which police indicated would be part of their new brief of evidence.

The Australian recently revealed key witnesses that formed part of the police case included a former northern beaches schoolgirl who kept diaries from the time she knew Ms Curtis and Mr Dawson. The unnamed woman reportedly met with detectives in recent weeks.

Ms Curtis, 54, who shares an adult child with Mr Dawson, has given new information to investigators that led directly to his arrest.

The former home of former rugby league player Chris Dawson and his wife Lynette at the time of her disappearance in 1982.
The former home of former rugby league player Chris Dawson and his wife Lynette at the time of her disappearance in 1982.

 

The Dawsons’ former home in Bayview was recently forensically examined by police. Supplied
The Dawsons’ former home in Bayview was recently forensically examined by police. Supplied

Their daughter, Kristen Dawson, told the Daily Mail, "It's a really hard time for us at the moment", but would not comment further.

It also emerged last week that another former babysitter for the Dawsons, Bev McNally, may be called to give evidence as a new witness.

Ms McNally told The Manly Daily that Mr and Ms Dawson's eldest daughter Shanelle had tried to brace herself for the charges against her father and was "coping".

"She was trying to prepare herself but nothing prepares you for this," she said.

In September, police dug up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple had shared but didn't find remains or items of interest.

NSW Police dig at the former home of Chris and Lyn Dawson in Bayview, September 2018.
NSW Police dig at the former home of Chris and Lyn Dawson in Bayview, September 2018.

 

NSW Police sift through excavated earth at the former home of Chris and Lyn Dawson in Bayview, September 2018.
NSW Police sift through excavated earth at the former home of Chris and Lyn Dawson in Bayview, September 2018.

During the 1970s, Mr Dawson was a professional footy player with the Newtown Jets in the NSW Rugby League, playing alongside his twin brother, Paul. He became a teacher at Cromer High School when he retired from the sport. Ms Curtis was a student at the school and when Mr Dawson noticed her in year 10 he fixed the roll to ensure she would be in his class the next year.

Soon after becoming her teacher, Mr Dawson invited Ms Curtis to be a babysitter for his two young daughters. The teenager - who came from a broken home with an abusive stepfather - accepted the offer.

Towards the end of the year, Mr Dawson and Ms Curtis had sex for the first time at his parents' house in Maroubra. It marked the start of a secret affair.

A coronial inquest was later told the couple started a sexual relationship when Ms Curtis was 16 and Mr Dawson was 32.

Joanne Curtis was a schoolgirl when she moved in with Chris Dawson just days after his wife went missing.
Joanne Curtis was a schoolgirl when she moved in with Chris Dawson just days after his wife went missing.

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

Chris Dawson has been charged with murder over his wife’s 1982 death.
Chris Dawson has been charged with murder over his wife’s 1982 death.
Lyn Dawson on her wedding day.
Lyn Dawson on her wedding day.
Lyn Dawson with one of her daughters at her Bayview home in 1978.
Lyn Dawson with one of her daughters at her Bayview home in 1978.
Joanne Curtis, former second wife of Chris Dawson, arrives for inquest into the disappearance of Lyn Dawson at the Westmead Coroners Court in Sydney, 2003. Picture: Glenn Campbell
Joanne Curtis, former second wife of Chris Dawson, arrives for inquest into the disappearance of Lyn Dawson at the Westmead Coroners Court in Sydney, 2003. Picture: Glenn Campbell

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