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Fruit market sighting may be the key to Chris Dawson’s murder defence

A fruit market sighting by the wife of a footy mate of Chris Dawson may be the key to his defence after he was charged with his former spouse’s murder.   

Ray Butlin, who first met Dawson in the 1970s, told a coronial inquiry in 2003 his wife had told him she thought she saw Lyn at a fruit market, The Australian reported.

He told investigators his wife Sue was working at a fruit barn at Kulnura, on the New South Wales central coast, when she allegedly saw Lyn in person after her disappearance in 1982.

‘She believed that she’d seen Lyn Dawson in the fruit barn itself, and she went to approach her and Lyn walked out of the place, got into a car, and left’, Mr Butlin told the coronial inquiry. 

 

Ray Butlin (pictured centre), knew Chris Dawson and his brother Paul when they played for Gosford after leaving the Newtown Jets

Chris Dawson (pictured left) has been charged with the murder of his wife Lyn Dawson (pictured right) in 1982 

Chris Dawson (pictured left) has been charged with the murder of his wife Lyn Dawson (pictured right) in 1982 

Mr Butlin, who knew Dawson and his brother Paul when they played for Gosford after leaving the Newtown Jets, also said his wife had a tendency to exaggerate things. 

He said Sue had a soft spot for the twin brothers and in an interview with police in 2001, he said she ‘at times liked to be the centre of attention and that may have affected her perception of what she saw on that particular day’.  

The former manager at Gosford Rugby Leagues Club also told the 2003 inquest Dawson and his brother Paul were ‘more or less stars’ to his wife Sue. 

‘If she had seen somebody that may have been of a like appearance to Lyn – and she knew Lyn extremely well – then she may have wanted herself to see Lyn,’ he said. 

Despite the allegations, Sue Butlin died in 1998 without ever giving evidence or a statement to corroborate claims she saw someone she believed to be Lyn Dawson. 

The re-emergence of the allegation comes less than a day after it was revealed Dawson allegedly misled detectives by creating a series of ‘false leads’ to show his wife had left him.

Fresh allegations that Chris Dawson (pictured) misled detectives by creating a series of 'false leads' to show his wife had left him will form the basis of the prosecution's case

Fresh allegations that Chris Dawson (pictured) misled detectives by creating a series of ‘false leads’ to show his wife had left him will form the basis of the prosecution’s case

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 she disappeared in 1982

The 70-year-old Dawson was on Thursday driven from Sydney Airport to the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills, where he was charged with Lyn's murder

The 70-year-old Dawson was on Thursday driven from Sydney Airport to the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills, where he was charged with Lyn’s murder

A source close to the investigation told The Australian the decision to charge Dawson came after detectives allegedly found inconsistencies in his stories. 

The prosecution will first need to ‘close off all the holes and systematically dismantle this story that Lyn just walked out of his life,’ the senior source said. 

Dawson has always maintained his former wife Lyn Dawson walked out on him and their two daughters, Shanelle and Sherryn, on Saturday January 9, 1982. 

Outside court this week, his lawyer Greg Walsh said there was evidence Lyn had been ‘observed by a number of people’ after her disappearance in 1982.  

‘Unfortunately, two of those people are deceased,’ Mr Walsh said. 

‘One of the witnesses who died, her daughter gave evidence at the second inquest, and she said that “my mother told me [and] if she was here today, she’d say she saw Lyn Dawson after her disappearance”‘.  

‘Another witness also gave evidence to that effect.’   

Chris Dawson (left with his children and one-time lover Joanne Curtis) was taken to Gold Coast airport on Thursday morning so he could be flown to Sydney, where he was charged with the murder of wife Lyn Dawson

Chris Dawson (left with his children and one-time lover Joanne Curtis) was taken to Gold Coast airport on Thursday morning so he could be flown to Sydney, where he was charged with the murder of wife Lyn Dawson

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 Lyn

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 Lyn

Mr Walsh said the defence would rely on ‘two very ­important Bankcard transactions on Lyn’s bank account in the weeks after her disappearance’. 

Outside court this week, Mr Walsh said his client would be pleading not guilty to the murder of Lynette and ‘strongly asserts his innocence’.  

Dawson was charged with Lyn’s 1982 murder shortly after he landed in Sydney on Thursday morning following his extradition from Queensland.

He faced Sydney Central Local Court via video link on Thursday. 

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

Chris Dawson is pictured arriving in Sydney after he was extradited from Queensland following his arrest on Wednesday morning 

Chris Dawson is pictured arriving in Sydney after he was extradited from Queensland following his arrest on Wednesday morning 

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

When asked by magistrate Robert Williams if he was Christopher Dawson, the accused replied ‘Yes. Yes, I am sir’.

He was told his case would be adjourned until next Friday, to which he replied ‘Thank you’ after shaking his head slightly.

Police allege Mrs Dawson was killed some time between 9pm on January 8 and 7am on January 9, 1982.

The charge sheet states: ‘That Christopher Michael Dawson on or about 8 January 1982 at Bayview in the State of New South Wales did murder Lynette Joy Dawson.’

Mr Walsh, told the court the matter was ‘quite big’ and asked that a bail application be set down for December 14. 

Dawson did not apply for bail, and it was formally refused.   

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. 

December 6, 2018:  Dawson is extradited to NSW and charged with Lyn’s murder.

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