Lynette Dawson was seen with a large black eye and was scared of her husband finding out she had visitors, a former co-worker has told a Sydney court.
Giving evidence in Chris Dawson’s murder trial on Monday, Judith Solomon said she had bumped into Lynette Dawson and her husband at the Warringah shopping center in Sydney a few years before disappearing in 1982.
Solomon recounted in court seeing a “huge, horrible black eye” when Lynette Dawson removed her sunglasses.
“It was going green. It was going across the bridge of her nose into the other eye. It was bad,” she said.
Chris Dawson then jerked on his wife’s arm and asked her why she’d removed her sunglasses, Solomon told the NSW supreme court.
She and Lynette Dawson worked together in the 1960s at the Bank of NSW, which is now Westpac. After bumping into each other at the Mall, Solomon visited the Dawsons’ house in Bayview.
The court was told the visit was quick, with Solomon asking to leave before Dawson arrived home. Solomon said Lynette Dawson thought her husband would be angry if he found out she had visitors.
Solomon said she had a “spiritual connection” with Lynette Dawson, telling the court that the pair had engaged in astral traveling and had flown together around Sydney in a dream state.
Chris Dawson, now 73, is accused of killing his wife and disposing of her body in January 1982 to have an unfettered relationship with one of his high school students and babysitter, JC. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
As well as being a physical education teacher, Dawson played rugby league for the Newtown Jets and was a lifeguard at Northbridge Baths.
Dawson’s barrister, Pauline David, questioned Solomon’s evidence, saying that Lynette Dawson had a reddened eye and that Chris Dawson did not pull on his wife’s arm as suggested.
She told Solomon that she had transformed her story about an ordinary event into a sinister one because of what she had heard in The Teacher’s Pet podcast, released by Hedley Thomas in 2018, about Lynette Dawson’s disappearance.
In a police interview from 1991, played to the court on Monday, Chris Dawson denied allegations he murdered his wife. He said the accusations came about because of a heated custody battle with JC, whom he married in 1984 and separated from in 1990.
“The whole purpose of [JC] raising the allegations is to slur my character with an upcoming custody battle which has turned extremely nasty and bitter,” he told Det Sgt Paul Mayger.
Claims by JC that he had driven with her somewhere south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to hire a hitman to get rid of his wife were rejected by Dawson as a “complete and utter fabrication”.
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Dawson told the police he had lain awake at night crying his heart out, waiting for his wife to call, and that he had still yearned for some contact even after starting his relationship with JC.
One of JC’s co-workers at Coles in 1980 and 1981 also gave evidence, describing an alleged incident where Dawson threatened him in the shopping center car park.
The witness, known as PS, said he was a high school student when he worked with JC and had asked her out several times because she was attractive.
While collecting trolleys outside Coles, PS told the court claims he was confronted by a much larger Dawson who shoved him back against a ramp and ordered him to stay away from JC.
Dawson’s brother Peter Dawson also gave evidence to the court. He said Lynette Dawson’s disappearance was not unusual because wives had been known to leave their homes without contacting their families.
He told the court he never asked questions when Lynette Dawson vanished in January 1982 because his wife’s mother had done the same.
“Chris’ wife was aware that my first wife’s mother had left and done just that, not contacted her family, and for that reason, I didn’t believe it was unusual,” he told the NSW Supreme Court.
Peter Dawson denied telling his brother that he could lose 40 to 60% of all assets plus custody of their two children if he left his wife.
Not only was this bad advice, but he was not aware his brother was experiencing marital problems until after Christmas 1981, he told the court.
JC had previously testified that, before Mrs. Dawson’s disappearance, she overheard a phone call between the two brothers about what would happen to the family assets if the marriage ended.
The hearing continues.