SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian man was convicted on Tuesday of murdering his wife 40 years ago after a renewed police investigation that was triggered by a popular podcast.
Christopher Dawson, 74, faces a possible life sentence. He opted for a trial by judge instead of a jury in the New South Wales state Supreme Court due to his notoriety from “The Teacher’s Pet” podcast, which 60 million people have listened to since 2018. The podcast set out a circumstantial case that Dawson had murdered his wife, Lynette.
Justice Ian Harrison found that Dawson killed his wife in 1982. At the time, Dawson was a high school teacher who was in a sexual relationship with a teenage former student and babysitter for his two daughters, identified in court as J.C.
The judge found the husband killed his wife because he feared losing his lover.
Harrison rejected the possibility that the wife abandoned her husband and children to vanish without a trace. He also dismissed claims the wife had been seen alive after January 1982 or that she had contacted her husband.
“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,” the judge said.
The wife had a strong attachment to her husband and daughters, was no “shrinking violet,” and had limited funds to support herself. This led the judge to reject the idea that she had left with only the clothes on her back.
“The proposition is ludicrous,” the judge said.
In his reasons for the guilty verdict, Harrison found that Dawson had lied about phone calls he claimed to have received from his wife after her disappearance.
J.C. and Dawson married in 1984 and separated in 1990.
Outside court, Lynette's brother, Greg Simms, appealed to his brother-in-law to reveal the location of her body.
“The journey is not complete. She is still missing. We still need to bring her home. We would ask Chris Dawson to find it in himself to finally do the decent thing and allow us to bring Lyn home to a peaceful rest,” Simms said.