Inside the weird world of Chris Dawson and his identical twin

Three relationships dominate the story of murdered mother Lyn Dawson: her marriage to husband Chris, his affair with a schoolgirl, and the inseparable connection to his identical twin Paul.

There is the normal bond often found between brothers, the sometimes spooky similarities between twins – and then there is the downright weird closeness of the Dawson siblings. 

For 74 years the Dawson brothers lived, worked and played in a proximity that borders on the bizarre to those outside their two-man bubble world.

Paul and Chris Dawson with a model wearing a Newtown Jets jumper in a 1970s print advertisement for the David Jones department store. Chris’s wife Lyn has been missing since 1982. Chris Dawson was found guilty of Lyn’s murder on Tuesday

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In a 1975 episode of the ABC program Chequerboard the Dawson brothers were asked what it would be like to be married to identical twins. They denied playing tricks on their own wives

Team Dawson: Chris (left) and Paul (right) Dawson are now 74 years old and had been living in Queensland. The brothers had numberplates'TWIN 1' and'TWIN 2'. Note Chris's T-shirt

Team Dawson: Chris (left) and Paul (right) Dawson are now 74 years old and had been living in Queensland. The brothers had numberplates ‘TWIN 1’ and ‘TWIN 2’. Note Chris’s T-shirt

After finishing school the Dawson boys chose to join the same sporting teams, followed the same careers and bought land to build homes in the same suburb.

Together they played top level rugby league for the same club – in the same position, over the same period – went to teacher’s college and took identical roles at the same, or nearby, schools.

They held part-time jobs together as garbage collectors, models and personal trainers, jogged side-by-side on road runs when they weren’t working, and each fathered three daughters.

They also had affairs with girls they had once taught and according to evidence heard at a 2003 coronial inquest both had sex with the babysitter Chris would eventually marry. 

Four years ago the Dawson brothers became the focus of worldwide attention brought by a re-investigation into Lyn Dawson’s 1982 disappearance. As always, they stuck solid.

Chris Dawson is pictured arriving at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on Tuesday when he was found guilty of murder

Paul Dawson came to court to support his brother, who was found guilty of murder on Tuesday

Chris Dawson (left) and Paul Dawson (right) are pictured outside the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on Tuesday ahead of Chris being found guilty of murdering his first wife 

Paul and Marilyn Dawson (left) did not appear at the 2003 inquest into the disappearance of Lyn Dawson (right with husband Chris). They both knew of Chris's affair with babysitter JC

Paul and Marilyn Dawson (left) did not appear at the 2003 inquest into the disappearance of Lyn Dawson (right with husband Chris). They both knew of Chris’s affair with babysitter JC

Then 70, they were both living in Queensland – Chris on the Sunshine Coast and Paul on the Gold Coast – and regularly spent time together. 

Paul had ‘1 TWIN’ number plates on his Subaru SUV and Chris had ‘2 TWIN’ on his Volkswagen van. 

Chris was convicted on Tuesday of his first wife’s murder after Justice Ian Harrison found he had resolved to kill Lyn after becoming obsessed with teenage babysitter JC during that marriage.

His brother, who was considered the more forceful personality of the two, will now have to adjust to life without his almost constant companion. 

Paul was the better footballer, more successful educator – becoming a deputy principal – and unlike his twice-divorced brother has been married to the same woman, Marilyn, for more than 40 years. 

In a 1989 newspaper interview unrelated to Lyn Dawson’s disappearance the brothers were quoted saying it was ‘great being a twin because you had a friend for life no matter what happened.’

Lyn Dawson was a devoted mother whose family say would never have left her two children. She is pictured here with her eldest daughter, who was four when the nurse disappeared

Lyn Dawson was a devoted mother whose family say would never have left her two children. She is pictured here with her eldest daughter, who was four when the nurse disappeared

Chris Dawson in one of his old football jumpers with his wife Lyn, who has been missing for 36 years

Chris Dawson met Lynette Simms when he was at Sydney Boys High and she was at the adjacent Sydney Girls High

Chris Dawson met Lynette Simms when he was at Sydney Boys High and she was at the adjacent Sydney Girls High. Forty years after she disappeared he has been convicted of killing her

‘We love it – we always asked to be in the same classes at school and we have played the same sports together all our lives,’ they said.

The closeness of the brothers featured in the hit podcast The Teacher’s Pet produced by The Australian newspaper and downloaded by 30 million listeners around the world.

Christopher Michael Dawson and Paul Anthony Dawson were born to Syd and Joan Dawson on July 26, 1948. Paul entered the world first.

As children the pair developed their own secret language and eventually had to undergo speech therapy so they could be understood by others. 

The boys went to Sydney Boys High where they met Lynette Joy Simms when she was in fifth form of Sydney Girls High and all three went on to be prefects.

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You can’t say no: The Dawson twins dressed as police officers in a commercial for CC’s chips

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A crew from Channel 9’s A Current Affair confronts Chris (right) and Paul Dawson in 2018

The brothers completed diplomas in teaching at Balmain Teachers’ College and later gained Arts degrees through the University of New England. Both became physical education teachers.

Chris and Lyn married in 1970. The twins, who had played rugby union for Eastern Suburbs since 1967,  switched to league and joined the Newtown Jets as second rowers in 1972.

Chris and Paul Dawson (above) switched from rugby union to league at the same time

Chris and Paul Dawson (above) switched from rugby union to league at the same time 

The pair reportedly went to the inner-city club because it was the only place that would take them both, Paul being considered the handier footballer.

The younger brother was known among fellow players as ‘Cranky Chris’, a coronial inquest heard in 2003. His older sibling was ‘Passive Paul’. 

‘Amongst their football teammates Chris and Paul Dawson generally stuck to themselves,’ Sergeant Matt Fordham told coroner Carl Milovanovich. ‘They appeared to be introverted and vulnerable without each other’s support.’

In 1975 the brothers appeared on an episode of the ABC program Chequerboard devoted to the special relationship between twins. 

During that program the brothers were filmed watching each other as they lifted weights in front of a mirror. 

‘Quite often you’ll see a reflection of yourself and straight away you think, “Ha, it’s the other one,” one of the twins said. ‘And of course on realisation that it’s obviously yourself you sort of have a little chuckle inwardly that you yourself could be confused. 

‘Our whole lives really are mirrored reflections of each other.’

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Teachers Paul and Chris Dawson were minor celebrities on Sydney’s northern beaches in the early 1980s due to their years playing professional rugby league and their modelling careers 

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‘But when they first start dating twins, I think they realise the relationship between twins, I think they tend to accept it,’ Paul Dawson told the ABC’s Chequerboard program in 1975

The interviewer asked the brothers if it was hard on their wives to be married to twins because ‘they can scarcely be said just to be married to one man when you’re so close.’

They chuckled when they interviewer asked if they had ever ‘pulled the trick’ on their wives of swapping themselves.

Paul: ‘No, no.’

Chris: ‘That’s a clear no, no we haven’t.’

Paul: ‘Certainly that’s an emphatic no.’

‘But when they first start dating twins, I think they realise the relationship between twins, I think they tend to accept it,’ Paul said. 

‘And they wouldn’t enter into anything like marriage unless they did accept this, you know, this bond or this relationship between their husband and his twin.’

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Chris and Paul Dawson played second row for the Newtown Jets from 1972 to 1977. They then joined the Gosford Townies on the Central Coast and later played for the Belrose Eagles 

Lyn Dawson also addressed what it was like to be married to an identical twin.

‘I hadn’t put any thought about sharing him until somebody a couple of years ago said, “What is it like sharing a husband?”,’ she said.

‘And to me it just seemed so silly because I hadn’t put any thought into it and you just join in. You encourage their closeness, not that it needs encouragement.’

 I hadn’t put any thought about sharing him until somebody a couple of years ago said, ‘What is it like sharing a husband?’

In the mid 1970s both brothers bought blocks of land a few hundreds metres apart on Sydney’s northern beaches in Gilwinga Drive at Bayview. 

They employed the same builder to construct their dream homes and later used the same company to put in swimming pools.

Lyn, who had struggled to conceive, gave birth to a girl in 1977 and another two years later. Paul and Marilyn already had three daughters.

Both Dawsons left the Jets at the end of the 1977 season and went on to play with the Gosford Townies on the Central Coast, where in 1978 they won a premiership.

They later spent two seasons as joint captain coaches of their local Belrose Eagles. 

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The Dawson brothers help teach NFL player Manfred Moore how to tackle during his brief stint with the Newtown Jets in 1977. Moore won the 1976 Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders

Good-looking, powerfully built and photogenic, they were viewed by many as minor celebrities on the northern beaches.

At the time of Lyn Dawson’s disappearance Paul was a PE teacher at Forest High and Chris had the same role at nearby Cromer High, where he seduced a student known during his trial as JC.  

Sergeant Fordham outlined the rivalry between the siblings in his closing submissions at the 2003 coronial inquest. 

‘In his youth Chris was continually trying to live up to the standard set by his older twin brother,’ Sergeant Fordham said. 

‘There was, in my submission, a form of sibling competition between the two twin brothers with respect to relationships with women, finance, employment, status, sporting prowess and property.’ 

The brothers’ shared interests and experiences allegedly extended to a sexual proclivity for schoolgirls. 

The Dawson twins featured on football cards during their years playing for the Newtown Jets

The Dawson twins featured on football cards during their years playing for the Newtown Jets

The Dawson twins featured on football cards during their years playing for the Newtown Jets 

‘Chris Dawson was known amongst his peers for incidents of infidelity,’ Sergeant Fordham told the 2003 coronial inquest. 

‘Some of these included the participation of his twin brother Paul and there is evidence in the brief that sex was organised for his brother as a form of gift giving.

‘Chris Dawson’s self-esteem appears to have depended upon being able to keep up appearances with his twin brother.’ 

Detective Sergeant Damian Loone told the 2003 inquest: ‘[JC] admits that, at Christopher Dawson’s instigation she had sexual encounters with Paul Dawson, including both Christopher and Paul Dawson together.’ 

JC had told Detective Sergeant Loone in 1998 that Paul and Marilyn Dawson had been aware of her relationship with Chris.  

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Chris and Paul Dawson lived just a few hundred metres from each other in Gilwinga Drive, Bayview, in the early to mid 1980s. The brothers have lived near each other all their lives

‘Well, Paul did, because he was having relationships with young girls all over the place, so you know, he was… ‘ she said.

‘Well, you know, I wouldn’t name names, but, you know, he had relationships going with schoolgirls.’

Detective Sergeant Loone: ‘Did Marilyn know Paul was having affairs?’

Well, you know, I wouldn’t name names, but, you know, he had relationships going with schoolgirls. 

JC: ‘I don’t think so, I don’t know. I really don’t know, ’cause it was certainly happening right under her nose. Whether she just turned a blind eye to it.’

In the same interview JC said Chris Dawson was a narcissist and the only other person he really cared about was his sibling. 

‘He was quite possessive, pretty anti-social, but certainly, you know, he was the most important and no one else really mattered,’ she said. 

‘His brother Paul was, you know, very, very important to him, but, you know, that’s not surprising being a twin.’

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Chris Dawson was twice the age of JC when they began having sex while she was in Year 11 at Cromer High and he was a teacher there. The pair married when she was just 19

It is not disputed Paul Dawson, his wife and children were at Lake Munmorah on the Central Coast when Lyn disappeared from Bayview on January 8 or 9, 1982.

Mrs Dawson has not been seen since then and two coroners recommended Chris Dawson be charged with her murder before that finally happened in 2018. He has always denied any wrongdoing. 

It is not suggested his older twin brother is suspected of any involvement in Lyn Dawson’s disappearance. 

Paul Dawson was interviewed in March 1999 by NSW detectives about what he knew of his brother’s marriage and his sister-in-law’s disappearance.  

‘I think they were both dissatisfied with certain aspects of their marriage,’ he said. ‘They both probably had legitimate beefs…

‘Chris is my twin brother, so obviously he’s close to me, and I think they were sorting themselves out.’

Former football star Chris Dawson married his 19-year-old lover JC at their home at Bayview in 1984. They moved to Queensland and had a daughter (all pictured)

Former football star Chris Dawson married his 19-year-old lover JC at their home at Bayview in 1984. They moved to Queensland and had a daughter (all pictured)

In that interview, Paul told police what Chris had told him: that Lyn had called him after her disappearance, that she had been sighted on the Central Coast and that she might have run off with a religious group.

He agreed Lyn Dawson was a good mother but claimed she was not overly affectionate. He denied having sex with JC.  

Detective: ‘In relation to [JC], did you ever have a relationship with [JC]?’

Paul Dawson: ‘No.’

Detective: ‘No physical relationship?’

Paul Dawson: ‘No. No.’

Detective: ‘No relationship whatsoever?’

Paul Dawson: ‘No. No.’

Chris and Lyn Dawson with their eldest daughter. Lyn has been missing since January 1982

Chris and Lyn Dawson with their eldest daughter. Lyn has been missing since January 1982

He did, however, admit to having had a relationship for some months with a former student he had taught at Forest High.   

Paul said he had sex with this teenager in ‘various places’ including once at his home but denied Chris ever had sex with the same young woman. 

He was sure his brother had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance. 

I mean, he’s my twin brother… He wouldn’t have played any hand in Lyn’s disappearance. 

‘It wouldn’t have happened,’ he said. ‘I know, I mean, he’s my twin brother, I know he wouldn’t have, I don’t know, whatever, he wouldn’t have played any hand in Lyn’s disappearance.’

He and Marilyn had considered how Chris would explain JC living with him if he truly believed Lyn intended returning home after a short time away from their marriage.

‘I think we asked ourselves the same question at the time by memory,’ he said. ‘I think Marilyn and I probably said the same thing, I don’t know. I don’t know how they were going to sort it out.’

After Chris married JC, they moved up to the Queensland Gold Coast about the same time as Paul and Marilyn did the same thing. 

Paul Dawson (right) accompanied his brother Chris Dawson (left) to the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday and was present when he was found guilty of murder

Paul Dawson (right) accompanied his brother Chris Dawson (left) to the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday and was present when he was found guilty of murder

Before that move both brothers cashed in the insurance policies they had on their own lives because, according to Paul in his 1999 police interview, they would not need as much money or cover as they did in Sydney.

Detective: ‘Would you agree that you were, even allowing for the fact that you were twins, you were sort of even closer than maybe twins would expect to be?’

Paul Dawson: ‘We… twins are close. Yeah. It’s hard to understand if you’re not a twin, but twins are close, yeah.’

Detective: ‘Allowing for that closeness, has Chris ever indicated anything untoward that may have happened?’

Paul Dawson: ‘None whatsoever.’

Marilyn Dawson was interviewed on the same day as her husband.

‘We were fairly intensely involved in Chris and Lyn’s lives because my husband and his twin are extremely close,’ she said.

‘I wanted Lyn to fight for Chris and her marriage and the children and she didn’t… 

‘She seemed to be meek when I wanted her to be strong.

‘I would’ve fought and in a way I did fight for my marriage because my husband was his twin and, you know, whatever Chris was doing my husband may have been doing too, and so I fought for my husband, and I wish Lyn had.’

Whatever Chris was doing my husband may have been doing too, and so I fought for my husband… 

Marilyn Dawson was not asked about her husband’s affair with a former student but spoke further of Chris and Paul’s personalities.

‘When Chris was doing his university, Paul and I would sit up half the night typing his assignments up,’ she said. 

‘I believe that my husband is the dominant personality, has more common sense and I believe my husband loves his brother and [would] protect him in any way that he had to…

‘But… I don’t believe that Chris could do anything to harm his wife Lyn, and I don’t believe that my husband could hide that from me… ‘

Marilyn was asked directly if she believed her husband would lie to her or police about Chris’s potential involvement in Lyn’s disappearance. 

‘I don’t believe that he would do anything to not assist you in your job,’ she said. ‘But I’m telling you that his twin is the most, probably the most important person to him in the world, after his wife and family.’

Chris, Paul and Marilyn Dawson all declined to give evidence at both the 2001 and 2003 coronial hearings. [Paul and Marilyn gave evidence at this year’s trial, while Chris did not]. 

In his closing submissions in 2003 Sergeant Fordham returned to the allegations of Paul Dawson having had sex with a student.

Chris and Lyn Dawson pictured on their wedding day on March 26, 1970. Mr Dawson would go on to marry his teen lover JC in 1984 and is now onto his third marriage with Sue

Chris and Lyn Dawson pictured on their wedding day on March 26, 1970. Mr Dawson would go on to marry his teen lover JC in 1984 and is now onto his third marriage with Sue

‘Then there is the allegation that he and Chris had sex with another female student at the same time which is flatly denied in his record of interview,’ Sergeant Fordham said. 

‘Paul also denies that his relationship occurred at the time that that girl was still in school and yet her statement describes incidents which could only have occurred during her school years.’

Chris and Paul Dawson were represented at that 2003 inquest by their solicitor brother Peter Dawson, who submitted there should be an open finding into Lyn’s disappearance.

‘The investigating officers also alluded to the involvement of Paul Dawson in the disappearance of Lynette and my friend has suggested some sinister connection between them,’ Peter Dawson told the coroner.

Sky News reporter Gabriella Power confronted Paul Dawson (above) in Hyde Park on Tuesday when she mistook him for his brother. She had not seen Chris taken into custody

Sky News reporter Gabriella Power confronted Paul Dawson (above) in Hyde Park on Tuesday when she mistook him for his brother. She had not seen Chris taken into custody

‘I suggest with respect, sir, that all that has been demonstrated is a very strong sibling bond.’

Paul and Peter were present in the NSW Supreme Court when their brother was found guilty of Lyn’s murder. 

After the verdict Paul muttered ‘bull****’ and Chris shook his head furiously as he was led down to the cells.

Sky News reporter Gabriella Power later confronted Paul in nearby Hyde Park, mistaking him for his brother, who she had not seen taken into custody. 

‘Chris, you’re going to Silverwater. Do you have anything to say?’ Power asked Paul.

‘I’m Paul, you idiot,’ he responded.

Chris and Paul Dawson (above) will not have to adjust to not living in each other's pockets

Chris and Paul Dawson (above) will not have to adjust to not living in each other’s pockets

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11166823/Inside-weird-world-Chris-Dawson-identical-twin.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Inside the weird world of Chris Dawson and his identical twin

Emma Colton

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