Australia

Chris Dawson charged with wife Lynette's murder

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Chris Dawson is due to face court on Thursday after being charged with murder.

Chris Dawson has been charged with murder over the disappearance of his wife Lynette Dawson, who went missing from Sydney's northern beaches nearly 40 years ago.

Dawson, a 70-year-old one-time rugby league player, arrived in Sydney at 9.30am Thursday on a Qantas flight from the Gold Coast, where he had spent the night in a watch-house.

A NSW Police statement said: "he has been charged with murder and refused bail to appear at Central Local Court [on Thursday]".

Chris Dawson (centre) is escorted by NSW Police detectives off a Qantas flight.
Chris Dawson (centre) is escorted by NSW Police detectives off a Qantas flight.
AAP

Dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and thongs, Dawson was led off the plane by detectives and driven from the tarmac straight to Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills. 

Dawson has long been a suspect in the case but denies any involvement in his wife's disappearance.

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson's arrest on the Gold Coast on Wednesday following the disappearance of his wife in early 1982.

Chris Dawson is escorted by NSW Police detectives as he arrives at Sydney Police Centre at Surry Hills, in Sydney, Thursday, December 6, 2018. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING
Chris Dawson is expected to be charged with his wife Lyn's murder.
AAP

The new evidence helped police "tie pieces of the puzzle together", NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

Some of the additional material surfaced as a result of The Australian newspaper's investigative podcast, The Teacher's Pet.

Chris Dawson has been refused bail over his wife's death.
Chris Dawson has been refused bail over his wife's death.
Supplied

It is believed the arrest follows new information provided by Dawson's teenage lover at the time, Joanne Curtis.  

She moved into the family home in Sydney's northern beaches days after Mrs Dawson disappeared and was an ex-student of the school he once taught in.

Mrs Dawson was 33 when she went missing in January 1982 leaving behind two young daughters.

Her brother, Greg Simms, said he was very emotional when told of Dawson's arrest.

"I'm the happiest man alive today, and if Lynette is up there looking down, she'd be smiling at us," he told News Corp Australia.

Mrs Dawson's niece Renee Simms said the events of the past few days don't seem real yet.

"We've been waiting for 36 years for something like this to happen," she told Network Ten on Wednesday.

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Chris Dawson arrives back in NSW, 40 years after wife's disappearance
Chris Dawson arrives back in NSW, 40 years after wife's disappearance

Body not found

Detectives from the NSW homicide squad began re-investigating her suspected murder in 2015 and sent a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions in April this year.

"There was additional evidence that was identified and that has seen the DPP make a positive decision in prosecuting an individual for the murder of Lynette Dawson," Mr Fuller said.

"Statements from witnesses helped us tie pieces of the puzzle together."

An undated photo taken from a Facebook page dedicated to Lynette Dawson, a 33-year-old mother of two from Bayview in Sydney's north, who was last seen in January 1982.
An undated photo taken from a Facebook page dedicated to Lynette Dawson, a 33-year-old mother of two from Bayview in Sydney's north,
AAP

The former school teacher appeared in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday where his application for bail was refused.

Despite the fact Mrs Dawson's body has not been found, NSW Detective Superintendent Scott Cook says investigators are confident in 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," he told reporters.

Lynette's family relieved

Mr Fuller said detectives spoke to Lynette's family on Wednesday and they "were certainly relieved to hear this result".

Relative David Jenkins tweeted: "I'm shaking. There is a long road in front of us in bringing Lyn home, but this is a big step."

Detectives in September dug up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple shared in the early 1980s but did not find her remains or items of interest.

Mr Fuller declared "we certainly won't give up on that search" for Mrs Dawson's remains.

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