Chris Dawson’s eldest daughter has addressed her father with an emotional plea during a court hearing prior to his sentencing for murdering his wife, Lynette.
Shanelle Dawson delivered a victim-impact statement during the hearing at the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, where she pleaded with her father to “finally admit the truth”.
Dawson was convicted of Lynette’s murder by Justice Ian Harrison in August after one of the country’s most high-profile trials.
The former teacher wasn’t charged over the murder until 2018 and has always maintained that Lynette walked out of their family in the early 1980s.
Fighting back tears, Shanelle told the court she had endured “41 years of deceit, silence, trauma and gaslighting” at the hands of her father.
“The night you removed our mother from our lives was the night you destroyed my sense of safety and belonging in this world for many years to come,” she said.
Her father sat silently in the dock and looked at the floor while Shanelle told him he had “no right” to take away her mother.
“You are not God”, she said.
“I went to great lengths to keep the secret from my daughter… Unfortunately her friend told her. I had to explain to my beautiful innocent daughter why her grandfather killed her grandmother.
“She kept asking, ‘Why did he do that?’ The same question which tortured me for years and years.
“Why didn’t you just divorce her? Because of money? For God’s sake.”
Shanelle was four when her mother was last seen, and her sister was two.
“Why didn’t you just divorce her, and let those who love and need her, keep her?” Shanelle continued.
“It hurts me deeply to think of you in jail for the rest of your life but I also choose not to carry your burdens anymore.”
The now 44-year-old said the thought of Dawson being in jail hurt because she had lost her mother and father too, and she asked him to reveal where her mother was.
“Please tell us where she is,” Shanelle said.
“I hope you will finally admit the truth to yourself and give us the closure we need.”
The court also heard statements from Lynette’s siblings, Gregory Simms and Patricia Jenkins, which were read out on their behalf.
Mr Simms wrote that Dawson had been accepted into the family but “repaid us by committing the ultimate betrayal”.
He added that the years of lying to the Simms family and his own daughters showed that Dawson was a “conniving monster hell-bent on … getting what you wanted at any cost”.
“To see you sitting there during the trial, showing no remorse or accountability … confirmed in my mind that you are a coward and can only see things from your own perspective and gain,” Mr Simms wrote.
“We ask you to do the decent thing and allow us to bring Lyn home to rest, finally giving her the decency she deserves.”
Ms Jenkins wrote of her initial confusion of learning that her sister was missing and that a “black cloud” had been hanging over the family for 40 years.
She said she had watched her sister be reduced from a “vibrant, caring, funny and intelligent” woman to one without confidence by Dawson even before her death.
It comes after Justice Harrison found that Dawson was motivated to kill Lynette because of an “obsessive infatuation” with “JC”, the family’s teenaged babysitter who was a student at the school he taught at and his future wife.
The judge said Dawson was “tortured” at the prospect of losing “JC” while he was “shackled with a wife” he wanted to leave.
During his marathon judgement, Justice Harrison ruled that Lynette died on or around January 8, 1982, and was satisfied that Dawson’s claims of speaking with her after that date were “lies”.
In Thursday’s hearing, Crown prosecutor Craig Everson SC argued that Dawson had planned the murder for at least six days.
“The death of Lynette and the offender’s subsequent campaign of disinformation left her parents and siblings in a state of anxiety and uncertainty for decades,” he said.
Greg Walsh, Dawson’s lawyer, said that the murder was an “isolated” and “precipitous” act and that Dawson had been receiving death threats in jail, where inmates called him “The Teacher’s Pet”, in reference to the podcast that thrust the case into the spotlight.
The hearing concluded with Justice Harrison reserving his judgement, with Dawson’s sentence due to be handed down on December 2.
Image: Getty Images
This article first appeared on OverSixty.