Accused to plead not guilty
CHRIS Dawson will spend at least a week behind bars after deciding not to apply for bail yesterday in Sydney’s Central Local Court.
The 70-year-old appeared via videolink after being charged by homicide detectives with the murder of his first wife Lynette in 1982 when the couple lived at Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Police have alleged that he murdered Lynette, 33, a former nurse, on the night she went missing. He is charged with murdering her between 9pm on January 8, 1982 and 7am on January 9, 1982.
Dawson’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, told the court that his client would apply for bail next Friday, December 14.
The case was heard despite an apparent mix-up by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The barrister briefed to prosecute the case was at Parramatta – while the case was in the centre of Sydney.
None of the members of either Lynette’s family or Dawson’s family attended court.
Magistrate Robert Williams formally refused bail and adjourned the case until December 14.
Outside court, Mr Walsh said his instructions were that Dawson would plead not guilty and “strongly asserts his innocence”.
Mr Walsh was hired late on Wednesday evening by Dawson’s older brother Peter Dawson, a former barrister who now practises as a solicitor.
Mr Walsh said it was a complicated case and he wanted to be properly prepared when he applied for bail. He said he believed Dawson had a good basis to seek conditional bail.
There is a presumption against bail on murder charges.
Mr Walsh said he had not listened to The Australian newspaper’s Teacher’s Pet podcast but he was concerned about the publicity that came from an “ideological” view that Dawson was guilty.
“That is not right,” Mr Walsh said.
“I would ask everybody to let the court do its work.”
Dawson was formally charged with the murder after being extradited from the Gold Coast.
He was arrested on a warrant and hauled before a Queensland court on Wednesday, almost four decades after his wife was last seen alive. Lynette went missing in January 1982, leaving behind two young daughters.
Her absence was not reported until the following month.
Dawson, a former Newtown Jets rugby league player, has long denied involvement in her death after The Australian’s podcast The Teacher’s Pet thrust the case back into the public spotlight.
Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson’s arrest on the Gold Coast.
The new evidence helped police “tie pieces of the puzzle together”, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.
Despite the fact Ms Dawson’s body has not been found, investigators are confident of the strength of their case.
“There are other examples in policing history, and history of the courts, where people have been convicted of murder without a body,” NSW Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters on Wednesday.
I WOULD ASK EVERYBODY TO LET THE COURT DO ITS WORK. DAWSON’S LAWYER, GREG WALSH
Chris Dawson with his future wife and then girlfriend Lynnette in an undated photograph.
Defence solicitor, Greg Walsh outside the court hearing for Chris Dawson.