A former student taught by Chris Dawson had told a Sydney court he would call her “petal” and leave secret love letters signed “God” in her schoolbag when she was 16.
The woman, known as JC, gave evidence in Dawson’s Sydney murder trial on Wednesday. She said in 1980, he had wanted to teach her after spotting her in the playground.
“He told me he had seen me in the playground the year before when I was 15 and decided that he would like to get to know me better because I was attractive to him,” JC told the court.
Dawson, 73, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Lynette, who disappeared from the couple’s Bayview home in January 1982. The crown alleges he killed his wife and disposed of her body so he could be in a relationship with JC.
The court was told that the former teacher pursued JC through the final years of high school, leaving notes of love and affection in her schoolbag in 1980 and 1981.
In one Christmas card, referring to JC as “petal”, Dawson wrote of his love towards his student before signing off as “God”.
JC said this was Dawson’s self-appointed nickname to disguise who he was because she was 16 then.
Another card sent by Dawson on JC’s birthday in 1981 referred to her as his “lovely beautiful bub”, the court was told.
JC said the attention from Dawson, who she felt could be trusted as her teacher, differed from her life at home, where her parents would drink heavily,. Her stepfather was controlling, violent, and abusive towards her mother.
JC told the court on Wednesday she would spend the night at Dawson’s home when hired to babysit his children and that she used to swim topless in his pool. She said he kissed her for the first time while giving her a driving lesson.
She stayed at the Dawsons’ home while completing her HSC. JC said Dawson was distant to his wife, teasing her through song and calling her fatso. The court heard Dawson made Lynette Dawson sleep by giving her alcohol so he could have sex with JC.
Chris Dawson’s former brother-in-law Greg Simms told the court earlier on Wednesday he believed the ex-rugby league player was guilty of murdering his sister.
“You have taken the view, haven’t you, that Mr. Dawson is guilty?” Dawson’s barrister Pauline David asked Lynette Dawson’s brother.
“I believe so, yes,” Simms replied.
The barrister suggested Simms had painted her client unfairly because he was desperate to get closure about Lynette Dawson’s disappearance.
Simms said his attitude towards Chris Dawson and his belief about what happened to his sister shifted after a discussion in early 1990 when JC alleged Dawson had wanted to hire an assassin to get rid of his wife.
“What is your attitude to Mr. Dawson today?” David asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to speak to him,” Simms replied.
David questioned whether Simms’ testimony had been altered because of conversations he previously had with Rebecca Hazel, who authored a book about Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, and due to what others had said in The Teacher’s Pet podcast on the case.
Simms’ wife, Merilyn Simms, also gave evidence on Wednesday, saying the last time she spoke to Lynette Dawson was in October 1981. At the time, she was very upset, saying her husband was angry and evasive and that their sexual relations had broken down.
She described a phone call from Dawson in September 1982, almost ten months after Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, when his two children were visiting their family farm. At the time, Dawson accused the Simms family of secretly taking the children to see his wife.
“He was very angry and agitated, and he said that he wanted Lyn to come back, he wanted to see her walk in the door, and that he missed her,” Merilyn Simms told the court.
The judge-alone trial continues on Thursday.