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Chris Dawson’s teenage lover and babysitter will take centre stage as star witnesses

Chris Dawson has been taken to Gold Coast airport and will be flown to Sydney to face charges over the murder of his wife, after his former schoolgirl lover broke decades of silence to reveal fresh evidence which led to his arrest.

The 70-year-old’s extradition was granted on Wednesday and he is expected to be put on a plane on Thursday morning and formally charged with Lyn Dawson’s 1982 murder.  

Footage aired on Channel Seven on Thursday showed the former school teacher sitting in the back of a car next to a police officer as they travelled to the airport. 

‘We’ve been waiting for 36 years for something like this to happen,’ Ms Dawson’s niece Renee Simms told Ten Network on Wednesday.

‘For it to finally happen it almost doesn’t seem real yet to me.’

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson’s arrest on Wednesday, almost 37 years after Lynette Dawson vanished on Sydney’s northern beaches.

  

Chris Dawson (left with his children and one-time lover Joanne Curtis) has been taken to Gold Coast airport and will be flown to Sydney to face charges over the murder of wife, after his one-time schoolgirl lover revealed fresh evidence which led to his arrest

Chris Dawson is seen in a police car on arrival at Gold Coast airport on Thursday morning

Chris Dawson is seen in a police car on arrival at Gold Coast airport on Thursday morning

Joanne Curtis, pictured with with her school teacher lover Chris Dawson’s children Shanelle and Sherryn, provided police with information that led to his arrest over the alleged murder of his wife Lynette

The new evidence helped police ‘tie pieces of the puzzle together’, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

Among the witnesses was Joanne Curtis, the teenage lover who moved in with Dawson two days after Lyn disappeared, The Daily Telegraph reported.  

A former babysitter for the Dawsons, Bev McNally, is another new witness who has given statements to police, along with a third woman who recently met with police for the first time.

The unnamed witness, a former northern beaches schoolgirl, had a close relationship with Mr Dawson, his twin brother Paul and Ms Curtis, and kept diaries about her school days, according to The Australian. 

‘They corroborate Joanne’s evidence,’ a senior police source said. 

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson's arrest on Wednesday

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson’s arrest on Wednesday

The new evidence helped police 'tie pieces of the puzzle together', NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said

The new evidence helped police ‘tie pieces of the puzzle together’, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said

Ms Dawson’s body has never been found. 

Police now believe she was buried in bushland in Sydney’s north, despite a recent excavation of her former Bayview home as police searched for evidence.  

Dawson’s former babysitter Bev McNally will also give evidence, having looked after the couple’s two young daughters Shanelle and Sherryn at their home in Bayview.

Ms McNally said Dawson’s arrest made for a ‘happy day, but also a sad one’.

‘It feels surreal… His daughters have had their world re-shattered. We have to feel for them too,’ she told the Manly Daily.

Ms McNally said she spoke to Shanelle Dawson on Tuesday night and had texted her on Wednesday morning.

‘She’s coping. She was trying to prepare herself but nothing prepares you for this,’ Ms McNally said. 

Chris Dawson (left) has been arrested on the Gold Coast in relation to the suspected murder of wife Lynette Dawson in January 1982

Chris Dawson (left) has been arrested on the Gold Coast in relation to the suspected murder of wife Lynette Dawson in January 1982

Former babysitter Bev McNally (pictured) will also be a new witness in the case

Former babysitter Bev McNally (pictured) will also be a new witness in the case

Allegations that Dawson was violent towards Lynette emerged when he appeared in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

The court heard there had been evidence of domestic violence.

The new revelations come after the daughter of Dawson and Ms Curtis spoke 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 two years after his wife Lyn disappeared.

Before now she had 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.

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

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 

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. 

'It's a really hard time for us at the moment,' Chris Dawson's daughter Kristen (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia from the doorstep of her Sydney home. Kristen has two children of her own

‘It’s a really hard time for us at the moment,’ Chris Dawson’s daughter Kristen (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia from the doorstep of her Sydney home. Kristen has two children of her own

Ms Curtis was soon engaged as babysitter for the Dawsons’ two daughters and moved into their family home at Bayview in 1981. 

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.

On January 9, 1982 Lyn Dawson (pictured) made plans to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths, where her husband worked as a lifeguard. She did not arrive and is presumed to be dead

On January 9, 1982 Lyn Dawson (pictured) made plans to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths, where her husband worked as a lifeguard. She did not arrive and is presumed to be dead

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

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

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. Lyn is pictured with husband Chris and daughter Shanelle

Lyn Dawson was a devoted mother whose family say would never have left her two children. Lyn is pictured with Shanelle

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 recently approached at her home. 'I'm sorry, I don't speak to reporters,' she said. 'Thank you.' She lives near her daughter Kristen

Joanne Curtis declined to speak to Daily Mail Australia when recently 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.

‘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

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. 

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.

 

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