The daughter of accused wife-killer Chris Dawson and his onetime schoolgirl lover Joanne Curtis has spoken about the effect on her family of her father’s arrest.
Kristen Dawson was born a year after Dawson married his former student Ms Curtis, which came two years after his wife Lyn disappeared.
She has never spoken publicly about her now 70-year-old father, who on Wednesday was arrested over Mrs Dawson’s 1982 disappearance and suspected murder.
Kristen, now aged in her 30s and with two young children of her own, still lives on Sydney’s northern beaches near her mother and not far from where Chris and Lyn Dawson once made their home.
Kristen Dawson was born a year after Chris Dawson married his former student Ms Curtis, which came two years after his wife Lyn disappeared. She is pictured on Wednesday afternoon
Chris Dawson’s daughter Kristen, pictured with her mother Joanne Curtis, still lives on Sydney’s northern beaches not far from where Dawson’s wife Lyn disappeared in 1982
Former school teacher Chris Dawson, 70, was arrested in Queensland on Wednesday morning and is being extradited to NSW to be charged with murdering his 33-year-old wife Lyn in 1982
On Wednesday she and her husband took their two children swimming as her father was being extradited from Queensland to face a New South Wales court.
‘It’s a really hard time for us at the moment,’ she told Daily Mail Australia from her doorstep.
Chris Dawson, who played rugby league for the Newtown Jets in the 1970s, met Ms Curtis at Cromer High School, where she was a student and he taught PE. He began having sex with her when he was 32 and she was 16.
Ms Curtis was soon engaged as babysitter for the Dawsons’ two daughters and moved into their family home at Bayview in 1981.
One of the family’s other babysitters, Bev McNally of Cromer, is a new witness in the case against Chris Dawson.
While it is unclear just how much Mrs Dawson knew of her husband’s relationship with Ms Curtis, there was tension within the household.
The affair was no secret at Cromer High and neighbours had seen the schoolgirl swimming topless in the family’s pool.
‘It’s a really hard time for us at the moment,’ Chris Dawson’s daughter Kristen told Daily Mail Australia from the doorstep of her Sydney home. Kristen has two children of her own
On January 9, 1982 Lyn Dawson made plans to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths, where her husband worked casually as a lifeguard. She did not arrive and is presumed to be dead
Joanne Curtis (centre) with her school teacher lover Chris Dawson’s children Shanelle and Sherryn. Ms Curtis babysat the girls then became their stepmother when she married Chris
For a short period Ms Curtis moved in with Dawson’s twin brother Paul and his wife Marilyn who lived in the same street with their three young daughters.
Paul had also been a Newtown Jets footballer and was a school teacher at nearby Forest High.
On January 9, 1982 Mrs Dawson made plans to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths, where her husband worked casually as a lifeguard.
Dawson told police he dropped his wife off at a Mona Vale bus stop about 7am but Mrs Dawson, 33, did not arrive at the baths.
Instead, Dawson took a phone call at the baths which he said was from his wife who told him she was taking a break and needed to be on her own.
Ms Curtis was on holiday with family and friends at South West Rocks on the NSW mid north coast when she says her older lover called her on January 9 or 10.
Joanne Curtis remains close to her daughter Kristen (pictured) who was born after Ms Curtis married her former school teacher Chris Dawson. Dawson’s wife Lyn disappeared in 1982
Chris and Lyn Dawson, pictured on their wedding day, had two daughters aged four and two when Mrs Dawson disappeared in 1982. He and new wife Joanne Curtis had Kristen in 1985
She told police Dawson said: ‘Lyn’s gone. She’s not coming back. I need you now. Come and live with me and the girls at Bayview.’
Ms Curtis believed it was the next day that Dawson arrived by car to collect her.
She moved back into the Dawson family home as his lover and effectively became mother to his children, four-year-old Shanelle and two-year-old Sherryn.
Ms Curtis, who wore Mrs Dawson’s clothes as well as taking her place in the marital bed, told police in 1998 the situation was ‘very strange for everyone.’
She married Dawson at their home in Gilwinga Drive on January 15, 1984 with Paul and Marilyn as witnesses.
Dawson gave Ms Curtis one of his missing wife’s rings to wear for the ceremony. He was 35 and she was 19.
The couple later sold the Bayview property and moved to Queensland where they had Kristen in 1985.
Lyn Dawson was a devoted mother whose family say would never have left her two children. At left is Lyn with husband Chris and daughter Shanelle. Lyn pictured with Shanelle at right
Joanne Curtis declined to speak to Daily Mail Australia when approached at her home. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak to reporters,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’ She lives near her daughter Kristen
During the pair’s short marriage Dawson allegedly treated Shanelle and Sherryn as princesses and largely rejected Kristen.
‘He was even more possessive of me and regretted Kristen,’ Ms Curtis told a coroner in 2003. ‘He wanted me to himself. He just wanted her out of the way.
‘I did as I was told. He chose what I wore. If I was going somewhere, he would have to approve it.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MISSING MOTHER-OF-TWO LYN DAWSON?
1970: Lynette Joy Simms marries footballer Christopher Michael Dawson. They are both 21 and later have two daughters, first Shanelle and then Sherryn
1980: Mr Dawson, who retired from playing rugby league to become a PE teacher, starts affair with 16-year-old pupil Joanne Curtis at Cromer High School on Sydney’s northern beaches
1981: Mr Dawson persuades Mrs Dawson to let Joanne move in to their home to get away from her violent stepfather and finish her Higher School Certificate
December 1981: Mr Dawson and his young lover run away together to Queensland but Ms Curtis changes her mind and they return to Sydney
January 8, 1982: Mrs and Mrs Dawson go to marriage counselling. Mrs Dawson’s mother speaks to her daughter, who is not a big drinker, on the telephone and thinks she sounds ‘sozzled’.
January 9, 1982: Mr Dawson says he dropped his wife at a Mona Vale bus stop so she could go shopping at Chatswood. Mrs Dawson fails to turn up to meet her mother, husband and children at Northbridge Baths. Mr Dawson says his wife rang him and said she needed some time to herself
January 10 or 11, 1982: Mr Dawson picks up Joanne from South West Rocks on the mid north coast of NSW and she moves into his home. He reports his wife missing six weeks later.
1983-85: Mr Dawson divorces his missing wife and marries Joanne. The newlyweds move to Queensland where Joanne has the couple’s daughter Kristen
1990: Mr Dawson and Joanne split up. She moves back to Sydney and urges police to search his old garden for a body
2000: Mrs Dawson’s pink cardigan is found during a police dig on the family’s former property at Bayview
2001 and 2003: Two coroners find that Mrs Dawson was murdered by a ‘known person’ – Chris Dawson – but he is not charged with any offence
2006: An episode of the British TV series Antiques Roadshow is filmed in Padstow, Cornwall. Mr Dawson later claims a woman seen in the background of the episode could be his missing wife
2018: Police prepare another brief for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions. The Australian launches its podcast, The Teacher’s Pet, about the case
December 5, 2018: Queensland Police arrest Chris Dawson at the home of his twin brother. He is expected to be extradited to NSW and charged with Lyn’s murder.
‘He was violent. There were some times when I locked myself in one of the bedrooms and he would try to break the door down.’
When Ms Curtis eventually left the marriage on February 1, 1990 and moved back to Sydney she went to police with her suspicions Mrs Dawson was buried on the property at Bayview.
[Subsequent searches have failed to find Mrs Dawson’s body].
Ms Curtis told police she left Dawson because she was frightened and desperately unhappy living with him.
Chris Dawson’s daughter Kristen grew up with murder accusations being leveled at her father
‘He was always possessive but once our daughter was born I think he felt a rivalry there with her,’ she said.
‘He didn’t like sharing me, he wanted me to stay in the confines of the property and not go and see people, so I didn’t have any associations until our daughter was two when I took her to playgroup, and I found out how other women had marriages.
‘I thought ours was just normal, in that he made all the decisions and I just followed them, his orders…
‘Then when I realised that there was something very strange about our relationship and he, he was getting more violent, and he would be violent in front of our daughter.
‘He would send the other two away, and there was all sorts of control, games he was playing, he used to start singing to me too, like he did to his former wife, and, you know, there were times I felt physically threatened.
Chris Dawson, 70, was arrested on Wednesday and is expected to be charged with murder
‘I feared for my life at that point and I made the decision to leave, because I was scared and I was desperately unhappy.’
Asked if Mr Dawson had ever asked her to do anything ‘out of the normal’ sexually, Ms Curtis said: ‘Well, yeah, you know… do this and you can have this.’
‘Yeah, I mean, yeah, you know. If I wanted a pair of shoes, well, you know, you have to pay for it type of thing.’
Dawson was arrested at the home of his twin brother at Biggera Waters on Queensland’s Gold Coast on Wednesday morning.
He is being extradited to NSW where he is expected to be charged with his wife’s murder.
Dawson’s application for bail was refused when he appeared in Southport Magistrates Court. He will face court in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, on Thursday.
Chris Dawson’s daughter Kristen has remained out of the public eye for three decades
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