Fiery scenes as murder case rocks Dawson family
It was a day of high emotions inside and outside court as accused murderer Chris Dawson, the unwitting star of The Teacher's Pet podcast, slammed the Crown's case against him as "a joke".
Meanwhile outside court, the former footballer's older brother Peter revealed the stress the Lynette Dawson murder case was taking on the family as he blew up at a TV reporter.
Accused murderer Chris Dawson shook his head as a court heard how he told his wife Lynette at a marriage counselling session the day before she disappeared: "If this doesn't work I'm getting rid of you".
The unwitting star of the record-breaking podcast The Teacher's Pet could be heard in Sydney's Central Local Court saying loudly "that's a joke" as the prosecution outlined its case for murder against him for the first time since his arrest last week.
The gloves came off during Dawson's fiery $1.5 million bail hearing as Crown prosecutor Craig Everson slammed his older brother, lawyer Peter Dawson, for feeding the media storm surrounding the case by making "outlandish" claims that serial killer Ivan Milat may have killed Lynette.
Dawson's lawyer, Greg Walsh, told the court he would have preferred those comments had not been made but he said the scales had to be balanced against an "orchestrated campaign" to present his client as guilty.
Mr Everson described the Crown case that thrice-married Dawson, 70, murdered his first wife between 9pm on January 8, 1982 and 7am on January 9, 1982 as strong.
"The case against the accused … is based upon strong circumstances," Mr Everson said.
Dawson, a former rugby league star and sports teacher, has maintained Lynette, the mother of their two children, had telephoned him, used her Bankcard and was seen a number of times after she walked out on the family from their Bayview home on Sydney's northern beaches.
Mr Everson said the evidence was that she had not collected her last pay from the Warriewood childcare centre where she worked.
She left her contact lenses at home and did not turn up for her $138 prepaid appointment at the optometrist for new ones.
"Her clothes were left behind," he said. "She didn't drive. She didn't have a licence. She never left an Australian point of international departure.
"She has never been to a doctor. She hasn't changed her name. She was a registered nurse and she has not maintained her nurse's registration."
Mr Everson said Dawson had been "persuasive" in convincing Lynette's family that she was still alive after she disappeared.
But he said the family did not know what Dawson had said at that counselling session.
Nor did they know he moved his teenage lover, Joanne Curtis, into the family home two days after Lynette went missing.
She went on to become his second wife but they had a bitter divorce. She is the main Crown witness, the court heard.
Nor did the family know that years earlier Dawson had approached a man with criminal convictions and asked him "how he might go about getting rid of his wife", Mr Everson told the court.
And they did not know about the cards he sent Ms Curtis, his former Cromer High School student, including one at Christmas 1981 which read: "To my darling Joanne. Our first real Christmas together. Know I love you more each day."
In Dawson's corner, Mr Walsh criticised what he said were "inadequacies" in the police investigation.
"This is a far from strong crown case. It is based on circumstantial evidence," he said.
Mr Walsh said the police had never investigated the reported telephone calls from Lynette, nor the use of her Bankcard nor the reported sightings of her.
He told the court Dawson should get bail since he hadn't tried to interfere with witnesses even though it was almost three decades since Lynette went missing and despite the massive publicity of the podcast.
He said Peter Dawson and his wife were prepared to lodge a surety of $750,000 and that Dawson himself would match that surety with a Queensland home worth more than $1 million.
Mr Everson opposed Dawson's bail application saying he was an unacceptable flight risk given he looked so much like his twin brother Paul that they could pass for each other.
He took the unusual step of forcing Mr Walsh into the witness box to be cross-examined over his affidavit, in which he said there would be a lot of investigation needed to defend the case including reinterviewing witnesses featured in the podcast.
Mr Everson asked Mr Walsh that if he was so concerned about the media coverage, why had he spoken to media outside of the court when Dawson appeared last week for the first time.
"What I did the other day … was to explain that in a high profile case like this the accused like Chris Dawson is entitled to the presumption of innocence," Mr Walsh said.
Magistrate Robert Mr Williams adjourned the case to 2pm on Monday and remanded Dawson in custody until then.