Chris Dawson has been found guilty of the murder of his wife Lynette Dawson in 1982.
Justice Ian Harrington delivered the verdict, saying he was “satisfied” the now 73-year-old resolved to kill his wife.
Justice Harrington accepted earlier in his ruling that Lynette was indeed deceased, believing she did not voluntarily leave her home and family as Dawson has continued to maintain.
In wrapping up the verdict, Justice Harrington said there was no other reason for Lynette’s disappearance than a “conscious and voluntary act committed by Mr Dawson with the intention of causing her death”.
“I find you guilty,” he said.
The former Sydney high school teacher stood trial in NSW Supreme Court for the murder of Lynette, 40 years after her disappearance from the family’s Bayview home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
View this post on Instagram
Dawson pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and vehemently denied involvement in her disappearance, claiming she abandoned him and their young children to join a religious group in the Blue Mountains.
Despite no body being found, two coronial inquiries ruled that Lynette was murdered by someone known to her.
Before the trial commenced Chris told 9 News that he was “looking forward to justice to be served and the truth coming out”.
“I just want the truth to come out,” he said.
The trial, which ran for over two months, heard from several witnesses, including friends and extended family members, who brought to light allegations of abuse, the hiring of a hitman and claims that Lynette had been spotted after she reportedly vanished.
Claims of alleged “animosity” between Chris and his former wife were made by the Crown prosecution as well as allegations that Chris had approached witness Robert Silkman to see if he knew someone who could “get rid of his wife”.
Defence barrister, Pauline David argued against the claims, denying that Dawson had arranged to hire a hitman in her opening statement to the court on Monday, May 16.
“The defence position is there is not a scintilla of truth to the suggestion that the accused approached Mr Silkman, or any other person, at any time because he was motivated in any way to get rid of his wife Lynette Dawson,” she said.
“It is a suggestion that is emphatically and utterly denied.”
Lynette’s sister, Patricia Jenkins took the witness stand on Tuesday, May, 18 revealing Lynette had thought Chris “needed to go see a doctor” regarding his angry behaviour.
“She said to me he was always so angry with her all the time,” Jenkins said.
“Her descriptive words were ‘his black eyes flashing’. And she thought he needed to go see a doctor to see if it was some physical cause that he would react to her in such an angry way.”
Jenkins has held out hope that her sister was still alive, although Crown prosecutor Craig Everson claimed that it was “inherently improbable” that Lynette had simply run off and abandoned her family, arguing that Chris murdered her.
However, David argued that it could not be entirely dismissed that Lynette was still alive.
“While sadly there are many questions without answer in this case, about what happened to Lynette Dawson, the defence submits the evidence just does not support that the answer is Christopher Dawson killed her,” David said.
“The defence submission is – based on the evidence before this court – the only verdict open is a not-guilty verdict.”
David conceded that Chris “may have failed her as a husband, but he did not kill her”.