Footy mate’s dead wife said to have seen Lyn shop­ping

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - HEDLEY THOMAS

Chris Daw­son be­lieves the keys to his free­dom may lie with an old mate from his foot­balling days, Ray But­lin, whose for­mer wife, now dead, pur­port­edly claimed that she once saw a woman she thought was Lyn at a fruit mar­ket.

Twin broth­ers Chris and Paul Daw­son have been friends with Mr But­lin for four decades — they have posed for pho­to­graphs with him in re­cent years on the Sun­shine Coast, prior to the rein­ves­ti­ga­tion of Lyn’s dis­ap­pear­ance by Homi­cide Squad de­tec­tives and The Week­end Aus­tralian’s pod­cast The Teacher’s Pet.

Mr But­lin and his then wife, Sue But­lin, knew the Daw­son broth­ers when they played for Gos­ford af­ter they had fin­ished play­ing first grade rugby league for the New­town Jets.

Mr But­lin was a man­ager at Gos­ford Rugby League Club and he had in­ter­viewed the Daw­son broth­ers for play­er­coach roles there in the late 1970s, start­ing a friend­ship span­ning 40 years.

Sue But­lin, who died in 1998, has never given ev­i­dence or a state­ment about claims that she saw from an un­known dis­tance some­one she be­lieved to be Lyn Daw­son af­ter her dis­ap­pear­ance in Jan­uary 1982.

Mr But­lin and his daugh­ter, Leanne, told a coro­nial in­quiry in Syd­ney in 2003 that Sue But­lin had a habit of ex­ag­ger­at­ing things to at­tract at­ten­tion, and she was fond of the Daw­son twins.

Mr But­lin said his wife had told him that when she was work­ing at a fruit barn at Kul­nura on the cen­tral coast of NSW “she be­lieved that she’d seen Lyn Daw­son in the fruit barn it­self, and she went to ap­proach her and Lyn walked out of the place, got into a car, and left”.

Lyn Daw­son did not drive when she van­ished. Her hus­band, Chris, who has been charged over her mur­der and stren­u­ously as­serts his in­no­cence, has re­peat­edly claimed Lyn left sud­denly and phoned him to say she was with friends on the cen­tral coast.

None of those pur­ported friends has come for­ward and there have been no ver­i­fied sight­ings of Lyn since 1982.

Mr But­lin agreed that in an in­ter­view with po­lice in 2001, he said his wife “at times liked to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion and that may have af­fected her per­cep­tion of what she saw on that par­tic­u­lar day”.

He told the 2003 in­quest: “Chris and Paul to Sue were more or less stars. If she had seen some­body that may have been of a like ap­pear­ance to Lyn — and she knew Lyn ex­tremely well — then she may have wanted her­self to see Lyn.”

Af­ter Chris Daw­son’s ar­rest this week, a state­ment from his brother, so­lic­i­tor Pe­ter Daw­son, said there was “un­con­tested ev­i­dence that Lyn Daw­son was alive long af­ter she left Chris and her daugh­ters”.

Chris Daw­son’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, later added that there was ev­i­dence Lyn was “ob­served by a num­ber of peo­ple” af­ter her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Sue But­lin was never in­ter­viewed by po­lice.

Her daugh­ter Leanne said she could re­mem­ber hear­ing a con­ver­sa­tion as a “fairly young girl” be­tween her par­ents.

She said it came out in 2001 af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween one of the twins and her fa­ther, re­sult­ing in Pe­ter Daw­son send­ing his wife, Ch­eryl Daw­son, to take a state­ment from Leanne.

Her 2001 state­ment says: “I have no doubt at all that if my mother was alive to­day, she would be in at­ten­dance at the Coro­ner’s Court to give ev­i­dence on oath that she saw Lyn Daw­son live af­ter 9 Jan­uary, 1982.”

She told the 2003 in­quest, how­ever, that she could not make a state­ment on be­half of her de­ceased mother, and she stressed she was a young teenager when she heard her mother and fa­ther talk about it.

FACEBOOK

A 2013 post on Mar­i­lyn Daw­son’s Facebook page show­ing twins Chris and Paul Daw­son flank­ing their old rugby league mate Ray But­lin

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