Australia

Chris Dawson pleads not guilty, faces new charge

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Chris Dawson has formally pleaded not guilty to murdering his former wife Lynette Dawson more than 35 years ago but has been hit with a historical sex charge.

Chris Dawson has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife Lynette hours before being charged with a historical sex offence from his days as a teacher at a Sydney high school.

Dawson, who played for Newtown rugby league club in the 1970s, was charged in December over the disappearance of his then-wife on Sydney's northern beaches in 1982.

Chis Dawson arrives at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney, Thursday, June 20, 2019. Dawson, who was extradited from Queensland, is accused of murdering his wife Lynette in 1982. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
Chis Dawson was extradited from Queensland to face the murder charge.
AAP

Dawson's lawyer Greg Walsh entered a formal not guilty plea before deputy chief magistrate Michael Allen at the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday morning.

Less than two hours after leaving the court, Dawson walked into Surry Hills Police Station and was charged with carnal knowledge of a girl aged between 10 and 17 while a teacher. 

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Drone footage of police forensic search of Lyn Dawson's house.
Drone footage of police forensic search of Lyn Dawson's house.

Police allege Dawson, a former teacher at Cromer High School, had become sexually involved with a 16-year-old student in 1980 - two years before his wife vanished.

The case became the subject of journalist Hedley Thomas' internationally successful podcast, The Teacher's Pet, which was published by The Australian newspaper.

The court, dealing with the murder charge on Thursday morning, heard concerns there was a "risk of contamination" to evidence as a result of the impact of Thomas' podcast.

Documents provided to Mr Walsh's office revealed a psychic medium had been involved in the case and had taken a "very active role" with Thomas in interviewing witnesses, the lawyer said.

Mr Walsh, outside court, provided reporters with an image he claims shows a police investigator and Ms Dawson's siblings meeting with a medium.

An undated photo taken from a Facebook page dedicated to Lynette Dawson, a 33-year-old mother of two from Bayview in Sydney's no
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

He said it was "bizarre" Thomas had used psychics to investigate the missing mother's fate and - along with the police - put the findings forward as credible information.

"Anyone using their common sense would say ... 'why would police be utilising someone who is using tarot cards?'" he told reporters.

"It defies belief."

Mr Walsh also raised concerns the psychic's interactions with important witnesses, such as Ms Dawson's siblings, could distort or cement memories.

The court heard both prosecutors and the defence had so far identified eight witnesses they would likely examine.

Among them was Thomas and a 100-year-old woman who said she saw Ms Dawson long after the disappearance, but not the accused killer himself, Mr Walsh said outside court.

Dawson's lover, who can not be identified, moved into the family home on Sydney's northern beaches days after Ms Dawson disappeared.

Both matters are expected back before the same court on 8 August.

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