Chris Dawson guilty: Timeline of murder of Lynette as ex-Sydney teacher is convicted

After more than 40 years of speculation and mystery, Chris Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife. 

In 1982, Sydney mother-of-two Lynette Dawson vanished, and was never seen again.

Her disappearance sparked a 30-year police investigation and, after renewed attention from a podcast published by The Australian, her husband Chris Dawson was charged with her murder.

The crown prosecution argued he had killed his wife in an attempt to have ‘unfettered access’ to his teenage babysitter, a former student of his.

The defence claimed Lynette had simply disappeared to escape the couple´s dysfunctional marriage and Dawson pleaded not guilty.

Four years after the charge was laid, Dawson faced a three-month trial that gripped the nation. Dozens of Lynette´s supporters swarmed the court on Tuesday, dressed in Pink, while Mr Dawson remained tight-lipped as he made his way through a throng of journalists.

Here´s everything that the court heard happened.

1965 – Lynette Simms begins dating Chris Dawson – she was a student at Sydney Girls High while he attend Sydney Boys High. The pair met at a high school function aged 16. 

copypic of Chris Dawson & Lynnette (Lynette) Joy (nee Simms ??) in 1965 - Lynnette went missing in 1982 she was 34 - an inquest pointed to Chris as a murder suspect. crime qld

Chris and Lynnette in 1965. She vanished in 1982 when she was 34

1970 – On March 26, Lynette Simms marries Chris Dawson, both aged 21 at the time, at St Jude´s Anglican Church at Randwick.

1975 – After selling their house at Cromer in north Sydney, Chris and Lynette Dawson purchase vacant land at 2 Gilwinga Drive, Bayview. 

They pay $31,000 for the land and $70,000 to build what will become their family home.

1977 – Chris and Lynette´s first daughter and ‘miracle baby’ is born in July.

undated copypicTroy/Bendeich of Chris Dawson with his wife Lynnette (Lynette) Joy Dawson on their wedding day. Lynnette went missing in 1982 she was 34 - an inquest pointed to Chris as a murder suspect. crime nsw missing persons

Chris and Lynette Dawson on their wedding day in 1970

Copy/PicBendeich /Westmead /coroner's court inquest into Lynette Dawson suspected death. Lynette and husband Chris Dawson in 1974. Lynnette (Lynette) Joy (nee Simms ??) went missing in 1982 she was 34 - an inquest pointed to Chris as a murder suspect. crime qld

Lynette vanished when she was 34, leaving behind her two children

Former Bayview Heights Home Of Chris And Lynette Dawson

The former Bayview Heights home Of Chris and Lynette Dawson

1979 – Chris Dawson begins working at a Sydney Northern Beaches High School as a physical education teacher. The couple´s second daughter is born in July.

1980 – Chris Dawson begins teaching a young girl, JC, in year 11 physical education. It was revealed in court he noticed her while she was in year 10 and altered the roll so he would be her teacher.

Throughout 1980, JC had a troubled home life, with Chris Dawson becoming her friend and confidante. She turns to him for advice and she later becomes the couple’s babysitter.

1981 – Lynette Dawson begins working part-time at a childcare centre in Warriewood. She tells her friend from work, Anna Grantham, that Chris had been ‘violent’ towards her and on one occasion pulled her hair and shoved her into mud near the pool. She was gasping for air.

October 1981 – JC moves in with the Dawson’s due to her tumultuous family life. Lyn was concerned about JC moving in as her marriage was unstable at the time.

Around this time neighbour Julie Andrew looks over the fence to see Lyn and Chris arguing. 

Chris was shaking his wife by the shoulders as Lyn clutched one of her daughters – she later tells Julie she was upset about JC being in the house.

Chris had a nose operation and told Lyn he did not want her to visit him in hospital. Lyn’s mother Helena visited her son-in-law to see JC sitting next to him in bed. 

JC lived with Chris' twin brother Paul Dawson (left) two doors down for a brief time. Picture: Supplied

JC lived with Chris’ twin brother Paul Dawson (left) two doors down for a brief time. Picture: Supplied

November 1981 – JC moves out of 2 Gilwinga Drive after Lynette confronts her after it is discovered that she was having sex with Chris while his wife was asleep or in the shower. 

JC moves into the home of Chris’ twin brother Paul a few doors down. JC said Lynette was welcoming to her but Chris would sing cruel songs to his wife.

December 1981 – Chris put down a $500 deposit on a unit in Manly to share with himself and JC. Around this time JC told the court Chris drove them to a pub or club and phoned his lawyer brother Peter to ask for legal advice regarding the Bayview house and a divorce. According to JC, Peter told Chris he would be ‘financially penalised’ if he moved out with JC.

About a week before Christmas, Lyn´s friend Roslyn McLoughlin told the court Lyn had been ‘unhappy’ when she last saw her and had bruising on her arm and thigh. Lyn pleaded with mothers in her tennis group to come back to her home, but they couldn´t because they were busy.

December 23, 1981 – Lyn was waiting for Chris to pick her up from work, but he never showed up. She took a taxi home to find a ‘goodbye’ note from Chris asking her not to ‘paint too black a picture of him to the children’. Lyn was invited to her sibling´s house for Christmas but chose to stay home to see if her husband returned.

JC on the day she left to start a new life with Dawson. Picture: Supplied

JC on the day she left to start a new life with Dawson. Picture: Supplied

Chris and JC had packed up their belongings in his car and set out for Queensland in the hope of starting a new life. They made it as far as Murwillumbah, on the NSW border with Queensland however they turn around before the border as JC began to feel unwell. She changed her mind about the move.

December 25, 1981 – The pair return to Sydney on Christmas morning and go to Paul and Marilyn´s house. They do not tell Lyn that Chris returned. Chris and JC go to the high school Paul was teaching and sleep in the gymnasium.

December 26, 1981 – Chris returns to Bayview while JC goes to her mother´s house and has an encounter with her violent stepfather. Chris picks her up and drives her to stay with her sister in Neutral Bay where she stays for a week. Chris visits most days.

December 31, 1981: Chris tells Lyn had made plans to attend a New Year´s Eve party on a yacht at Pittwater. Lyn suggests they go as a family but Chris says no. JC told the court that Chris did not attend a party but spent the night with her in his car.

January 1, 1982 – Lyn and her daughters go to Clovelly to stay with her parents.

January 2, 1982 – JC travels to South West Rocks to holiday with friends and family for a camping trip to celebrate the end of Year 12. Chris begs her to call him every day.

January 3, 1982 – Lyn and the girls return to Bayview.

January 4, 1982 – Chris’ brother Paul and his wife and daughters leave Sydney and head to the Central Coast for a holiday. Around this time, Lyn’s co-workers say they saw more bruising on Lyn, who told them she and Chris were going to attend a marriage counselling session.

January 8, 1982 – Chris and Lynette Dawson attend marriage counselling. Later that evening, Lynette has a phone conversation with her mother Helena after Chris was reluctant to put her on the phone, the mother claimed. It is the last time she speaks to any friends and family. Lyn tells her mother Chris had made her a ‘lovely drink’ and that the counselling session went well. She said ‘everything is going to work out’. In a diary entry, Ms Simms wrote: ‘Rang Lyn, sounded half sozzled, said all was well.’

January 9, 1982 – According to Mr Dawson, Lyn woke up early to do washing and prepare lunch for her daughters. He claimed she had been distressed the night prior but apologised for her breakdown and was more calm. He says he drove his wife to a Mona Vale bus stop so she could go shopping. He takes his daughters swimming at Northbridge Baths, where Lyn was scheduled to meet him later that afternoon, but she never arrived.

Greeting cards and notes that were given to witness JC by Chris Dawson when they were in a relationship in the early 1980's.

Greeting cards and notes that were given to witness JC by Chris Dawson when they were in a relationship in the early 1980s

Notes given to JC by Chris Dawson.

Notes given to JC by Chris Dawson

She was scheduled to meet him at the Northbridge Baths later that afternoon before meeting her mother, but never arrived. Helena Simms remembers Chris was ‘agitated’ when she arrived and asked if Lyn contacted her. According to Mr Dawson, he later received a phone call from her in which she says she needs time away. He gets a friend to drive Helena and his two daughters to her home in Sydney´s east.

January 10, 1982 – Chris goes to South West Rocks where JC is holidaying with friends. JC later says he is ‘nervous and agitated’. The pair return to Sydney and Chris asks JC to move in with him.

Chris claims Lyn called him again and said she needed more time to think things through. He contacts her workplace and told them she would be off for a week as she was sick.

January 12, 1982 – Two purchases show up on Lynette Dawson’s bank card statement. One for Katies Narrabeen dated January 12, another for Just Jeans Narrabeen dated January 27. However it´s unclear when the purchases were made. There is no documentation to substantiate the claim.

January 16, 1982 – Chris Dawson says he has his last contact with Lynette Dawson on the phone.

JC on her 18th birthday wearing Lyn's clothes. Picture: Supplied.

JC on her 18th birthday wearing Lyn’s clothes. Picture: Supplied

Around mid-January JC permanently moves into 2 Gilwinga Drive, sleeping in the Dawsons’ matrimonial bed.

February 18, 1982 – Chris Dawson files a missing person’s report at Mona Vale police station after Lyn´s mother begs him to do so. It has been six weeks since she disappeared and Chris tells police she left of her own accord. He says there is no concern for her welfare.

Chris tells police he last saw Lynette on January 9 when he dropped her to the bus stop and had heard from her several times by phone.

March 27, 1982 – Chris Dawson places an ad in The Daily Telegraph saying: ‘Lyn I love you, we all miss you. Please ring. We want you home. Chris.’

April 1982 – Some sightings of Lyn were alleged throughout April, but there is no evidence, alleged by witnesses in court

August 1982 – Chris Dawson submits an ‘antecedent report’ to police, and seeks a court order for the dissolution of his marriage to Lynette on the basis of abandonment. He claims he is a ‘forlorn, abandoned husband’ who tried to find his wife. He tells police the pair experienced marital difficulties due to Lyn´s bank spending.

It is granted two months later. He is awarded all marital assets including 2 Gilwinga Drive, as well as custody of the children.

October 1982 – Chris Dawson took his missing wife´s belongings in garbage bags to her mother´s house, including a sales inspection for the Bayview house which showed she had not agreed to the sale of the property in December before she went missing.

Chris Dawson and JC on their wedding day in 1984 - two years after Lyn's disappearance. Picture: Supplied

Chris Dawson and JC on their wedding day in 1984 – two years after Lyn’s disappearance. Picture: Supplied

1983 – Chris asked for legal advice from his solicitor friend Jeff Linden to seek a divorce, which is confirmed. He makes a formal affidavit for application of property settlement, claiming Lyn abandoned the family home.

Family and friends of Chris and Lynette travel to Bayview to visit Chris where they notice JC was wearing Lyn´s rings.

January 1984 – Chris Dawson and JC marry and move to the Gold Coast later that year. Chris has Lyn´s rings resized for JC.

Throughout 1984, Chris sought to have all of Lyn´s assets including her share in the Bayview house transferred to his name and sells the home.

January 1985 –  JC and Chris build a home near his brother Paul and his wife Marilyn. JC gives birth to the couple´s daughter, while Chris takes up a job at Keebra Park High and later moves to Coombabah where his brother taught.

Lyn´s friend Sue Strath writes to the NSW Ombudsman´s office asking the watchdog to intervene over what she felt was the lack of action by police. Senior police claim there was nothing to indicate foul play or suspicion.

1985 – 1990 – JC calls her home in Queensland with Chris ‘the compound’. Their relationship begins to deteriorate following the birth of their daughter. She claims he was controlling and did not allow her much freedom. JC later said she did not realise her situation was unusual until she interacted with other mothers.


Chris Dawson outside court during his trial 

Around 1987 or 1988, the new owners of the Bayview home at Gilwinga Drive visits solicitor Jeff Linder about something else and the conversation turns to the disappearance of Lynette Dawson. Mr Linden is told Chris Dawson recently visited the home and asked where the new owner was digging. No one reported the conversation to police. Jeff Linden has now claimed the conversation was chilling.

1990 – JC and Chris Dawson separate. She moves back to Sydney with their daughter and contacts Lyn´s family and police, providing them information about the marriage. JC begins divorce proceedings.

Police conduct a survey of the Bayview property using ground-penetrating radar but no digging is done. They focus on the area around the swimming pool but nothing is found.

May 17, 1990 – JC makes a report to police in which she makes several serious allegations.

January 15, 1991 – Chris Dawson is interviewed by police at Beenleigh station in Queensland after the Lyn Dawson file was reopened. Senior police officer Paul Hulme was urged to look into the case by his wife´s friend, who was also friends with Lyn and contacted the Ombudsman in 1985. It is found that Lyn´s case file is almost empty.

Chris Dawson (second from the right) during a police interview in January 1991. Picture: Supplied.

Chris Dawson (second from the right) during a police interview in January 1991. Picture: Supplied.

1998 – Police reopen the investigation into Lynette Dawson´s disappearance with Detective Sergeant Damian Loone in charge of the investigation.

1999 – Paul and Chris’ phones are tapped but the brothers never talk about Lyn or the police investigation. Paul and Marilyn are questioned by police where Paul says he and his family were on holiday at the time of Lyn´s disappearance. He claims she may have run off with a religious group. Paul tells police he was not aware JC was with Christ when they left for Queensland in 1981 but Marilyn said she remembers they stayed in their home when they arrived back. She confesses she did not tell Lyn about it, but claims Lyn made ‘opportunities’ for her husband and the babysitter to be together. Marilyn said Lyn did not fight for her marriage to Chris.

Chris declines to be interviewed.

January 2000 – Police conduct limited excavation in a small area around the pool at the Bayview house. A woman´s pink cardigan and popper container with 1981 expiry date were both found. Cardigan was in pieces and appeared to have slash marks. It does not connect to Lyn.

February 2001 – The first coronial inquest into Lynette Dawson´s disappearance is held. Deputy State Coroner Jan Stevenson says that Lynette Dawson was killed by someone she knew and recommends charges being laid. The Director of Public Prosecutions refuses to lay charges.

FEBRUARY 28, 2001 : Gregory Simms & Pat Jenkins (C), siblings of missing person Lynette Dawson attend Glebe Coroner's Court 28/02/01. Pic Samantha Studdert.
NSW / Crime

Gregory Simms and Pat Jenkins (centre), siblings of Lynette Dawson attend Glebe Coroner’s Court in 2001. Picture: Samantha Studdert

February 2003 – A second coronial inquest is held which recommends that Dawson be charged over five days. The DPP again refuses to lay charges.

August 2003 – DPP Nicholas Cowdery refuses to prosecute, claiming there is a lack of evidence.

2013 – NSW Police offer a $100,000 reward for any information.

2014 – The reward is doubled to $200,000. 

2015 – A third police investigation begins with Detective Senior Constable Daniel Poole in charge.

May 2018 – The Teacher´s Pet podcast, by journalist Hedley Thomas, is launched. It racks up over 60 million downloads and earns Mr Thomas the Gold Walkley.

September 2018 – Police began digging in the backyard of 2 Gilwinga Drive, Bayview. They do not find a body.

Dawson Dig

Police digging outside the former Dawson home

Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives off a QANTAS flight as he is extradited from the Gold Coast. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives off a flight after being extradited from the Gold Coast 

December 5, 2018 –  Chris Dawson is arrested in Queensland and extradited to NSW where he is charged with murder.

May 2022 – Chris Dawson’s Supreme Court trial before Justice Ian Harrison commences.

August 30, 2022 – Judge finds Chris Dawson guilty of murdering his wife. Chris Dawson guilty: Timeline of murder of Lynette as ex-Sydney teacher is convicted

Bradford Betz

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