Former rugby player Chris Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, 40 years after she disappeared.
After a four-hour reading, Justice Ian Harrison delivered his verdict on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the two-month trial to an end.
“Chris Dawson I find you guilty of the murder of Lynette Dawson,” he told the accused.
According to The Guardian, gasps were heard in the courtroom where Justice Harrison was delivering his verdict. The courtroom next door, where the trial was being live streamed, erupted into applause.
Dawson was alleged to have killed his wife to be with the family’s teenage babysitter, referred to as JC.
Lynette was last seen on January 8, 1982, after she spoke to her mother on the phone. Her body was never found.
Since Dawson successfully applied for a judge-only trial – due mainly to the publicity generated around the case by the Teacher’s Pet podcast – Justice Harrison was required to outline the reasons behind his decision.
Justice Harrison said the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette was dead, that Dawson had killed her with the possible involvement of assistance of others, and that he disposed of her body.
The Supreme Court justice shared several findings to support his decision and weighed in on evidence presented during the trial, including ruling that Lynette had died on the date alleged by the prosecution and dismissing claims from Dawson that he contacted his wife as “lies”. Justice Harrison said it was “simply absurd” and defied “common sense” that Lynette would be in contact with the person “who was the reason for her departure” from her home.
He also ruled that Lynette didn’t leave home voluntarily, with the prosecution providing multiple reasons that were “strongly persuasive” when considered together, including that she adored her children, hadn’t taken any clothing or personal items with her, was mentally stable, and was dependent on her husband to drive her everywhere.
“Lynette Dawson is dead … she died on or about 8 January 1982 and she did not voluntarily abandon her home,” he told the court.
Justice Harrison dismissed claims from the defence that Lynette was spotted after January 8.
He found that Dawson told JC, “Lyn’s gone, she’s not coming back, come back to Sydney and help look after the kids and live with me”, when he picked her up from a camping trip at South West Rocks with friends between January 10 and 12.
However, he said that he disagreed with claims that Dawson was motivated to kill his wife because of financial reasons, nor that he had in his mind that he would kill her when he left with JC.
“That decision was made following their return and after the teen had left for South-West Rocks,” Justice Harrison said.
He said that he was “satisfied” that Dawson resolved to kill Lynette while JC was camping.
Following the verdict, Dawson was taken into custody, with his lawyer, Greg Walsh, telling Justice Harrison that Dawson would likely apply for bail before his sentencing hearing, a date for which hasn’t been set yet.
Images: @poppymasselos (Twitter) / @Kangaroo_Court (Twitter)
This article first appeared on OverSixty.