Footy mate’s dead wife said to have seen Lyn shopping
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.
A 2013 post on Marilyn Dawson’s Facebook page showing twins Chris and Paul Dawson flanking their old rugby league mate Ray Butlin