After a popular podcast led to a new investigation by the police, an Australian ex-teacher at high school was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the murder of his wife 40 years earlier.
Chris Dawson, age 74, was featured in The Teacher’s Pet, a podcast about his murder of Lynette Dawson. Her body was never found.
Inquests in 2003 recommended that Dawson be charged with the murder of his wife, but prosecutors rejected this recommendation due to a lack evidence.
After the 2018 podcast, police were forced to reopen the cold case against him.
It established a circumstantial case in which the ex-rugby league player was accused of murdering his wife.
He was found guilty in August of the crime of having a relationship with a teenager student, with whom he had a sexual affair and who had lived and babysat in his Sydney home.
Due to the public interest surrounding the case, he was tried without a jury.
Dawson’s legal team had argued that The Teacher’s Pet was a true crime podcast by News Corp’s The Australian newspaper. He was not given a fair trial due to the way he was presented.
Judge Harrison agreed that the podcast, which is a top-rated hit according to the paper has been downloaded over 50 million times, had cast Dawson in a negative light. However, this was not considered in the verdict.
Judge Ian Harrison sentenced Dawson to a New South Wales Supreme Court hearing. He said that Dawson’s claim about his wife having left him was absurd.
He stated that Wadeson had enjoyed 36 years of community life up to his arrest, without being convicted for the murder of his wife or any other punishment.
“Practically, his denial that he was responsible for that crime has clearly benefited him in a practical sense.”
Dawson insists that he wasn’t involved in the disappearance of his wife.
His lawyer stated that he would appeal against the sentence. He said to reporters that he maintained his innocence.
Dawson, who is now 92 years old, will be eligible to receive parole in 2040.
Lynette Dawson’s brother Greg Simms said that the family was happy with the sentence.
He said, “We respect Judge Harrison’s sentence and thank him for it. We hope Chris Dawson lives long enough to fulfill that sentence.”
Dan Doherty was a detective who was involved in the investigation. He said that while the sentence would be comforting for the family, it is still a case because the victim’s body is still unknown.