A former student taught by Chris Dawson has claimed he left love notes in her schoolbag before he allegedly murdered his wife.
In the love notes, which were tendered on Wednesday during Dawson’s trial for the alleged murder of his wife Lynette, he calls her ‘Petal’ and signs himself off as ‘God’.
Now aged in her late 50s, the then Cromer High School student on Sydney’s Northern Beaches told the court that Dawson, who was then a PE teacher twice her age, had eyed her up ‘in the playground’ from when she was 15.
‘He told me he had seen me in the playground the year before when I was 15 and he’d like to get to know me because he was attracted to me,’ the woman known as JC told the court.
‘I believe he deliberately tried to take my class the following year.’
She said Dawson had put his hand on her leg at a school athletics carnival, had with his twin brother Paul both lied to their wives to to drink with schoolgirls at the local Time and Tide Hotel, and kissed her in the Dee Why car park while giving her driving lessons.
Dawson, 73, is standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court accused of murdering his wife, who disappeared in January 1982, aged 33.
The Crown claims that then-high school teacher Chris Dawson killed Lynette and disposed of her body because of his affair with one of his students, known as JC.
JC said this was Dawson’s self-appointed nickname to disguise who he was because she was then 16.
A court has heard how Chris Dawson called a student at his former high school ‘petal’ and that he wooed her with secret love letters left in her schoolbag
Dawson’s legal team has argued at the trial that he might have failed his wife as a husband, but he did not kill her.
JC told the court that in 1980, Dawson had bought the 16-year-old two different schoolbags, in which he left love notes.
‘He used to leave notes of love and affection in may bag when I went to biology,’ JC told the court.
‘When I left the relationship in 1990, he said I should destroy all those notes. I destroyed most of them.’
But she said of ‘the rest’, ‘I kept the originals for 40 years.’
The love letters tendered at the trial included a card Dawson gave JC on her 17th birthday, signed by him ‘Happy Birthday XXX’ and a Happy Valentine’s Day 1981 card.
JC said Dawson called her ‘Petal’, himself ‘God’ and pledged they would be together forever at a time when his wife was still alive, but vanished soon afterward
On that card, it was written: ‘To my lovely beautiful (JC). The happiness have given me will be with me forever’.
In a Christmas 1980 card, when JC was aged 16, Dawson allegedly called her by his pet name for her, ‘Petal’ and wrote, ‘Love always, God’ which JC said he often used to disguise his identity in love notes to her, because ‘it was 1980 and I was 16’.
On a 1981 birthday card, under a proforma greeting ‘Happy birthday my little chickadee!’, the court heard Dawson wrote: ‘To my lovely beautiful Bub. Happy birthday … and hoping we will have all the birthdays to follow. All my love forever XXX’.
Asked how that made her feel at the time, JC said, ‘I felt loved’, which was ‘quite different’ to her home life, where her stepfather was physically attacking her mother.
JC told the court she would spend the night at Dawson’s home while she was hired to babysit his children.
Asked what she thought the birthday card meant, JC said she thought it meant ‘that he expected to share every birthday together – that we would be together forever’.
Chris Dawson and his wife Lynette married and had two children, but she vanished without trace aged 33 in early 1982 after he had begun an affair with schoolgirl JC
The court heard that Dawson moved the schoolgirl into the home and when his wife (pictured together) fell asleep after he mixed her cocktails, had sex with the teenager in the family home
When she was forced out of home after the stepfather hit her, Dawson had offered her a room at his house, and although Lynette ‘was very welcoming’ she soon noticed his cruel taunts to his wife, the court heard.
She said Dawson would ‘sing songs to her that were cruel, put her down, songs with double meanings, maybe it was to impress me … about her unattractiveness’.
She said in one of those songs he called her ‘Fatso … and laughed about it’.
The court heard Dawson made Lynette sleep by giving her alcohol so he could have sex with JC.
‘Chris Dawson would want me to have sex with him … in the bedroom I was designated,’ she said.
JC told the court about how she would swim in the family swimming pool of the Dawson house topless because that ‘was the fashion’ at the time.
She said the pool was immediately surrounded by brick tiling, but the rest of the land around it was ‘just dirt’, which after rain, turned muddy and cascaded dirty water down into the pool.
The swimming pool at the Dawson home where JC swam topless was surrounded by brick tiles and lots of dirt which became muddy after rain and emptied into the pool
Lynette Dawson (above in the yard of the family home) with one of her daughters before she disappeared in January 1982, aged 33
JC said in about October 1981, while Dawson was in hospital having nose surgery, Lynette confronted her at home and said, ‘you’ve been taking liberties with my husband’.
Asked what JC thought that meant, she said, ‘she realised there was something more going on than… that we were in a sexual relationship’.
JC said she stayed at the Dawsons’ home where she said Dawson was distant to his wife.
Asked by Mr Everson how many times after that she saw Lynette Dawson, JC replied, ‘Never’.
Precious family photos that were taken shortly before Lynette vanished from Sydney’s Northern Beaches 40 years ago were shown in court on Tuesday, The Australian reported.
The last photo of Lynette Dawson (pictured with arms folded near centre) before she disappeared in January 1982 was shown to court on Wednesday
One image from Christmas 1981 shows the mother-of-two at a festive celebration, standing with her arms folded.
On it, her heartbroken mother Helena Simms’ wrote: ‘The last photo of my Lyn’.
On Tuesday, Mr Everson read dairy entries, penned by Mrs Simms, to the court detailing conversations with her daughter in the months leading up to her disappearance.
In one diary extract from January 6 in 1981, Ms Simms recounted a Christmas party at her house attended by Mr and Ms Dawson.
The court heard that the entry read: ‘Chris said again ‘I only want to look after my two little girls!’ I said ‘what about Lyn?’ He said: ‘she’s in the kitchen where she belongs’.’
Another diary entry read to the court Ms Simms note that ‘Lyn wants Chris to see a doctor to see what is making him so angry.’
A third entry read to the court – a year after Ms Dawson, 33, disappeared in January of 1982 – said Mr Dawson came to her house to drop off Lynette’s belongings in ten black garbage bags.
Another family photo provided to court shows Chris and Lynette in 1979
Helena Simms, (pictured left) the mother of alleged murder victim Lynette Dawson, kept a diary documenting the treatment of her daughter at the hands of her husband Chris Dawson
The former Newtown Jets rugby league player and high school teacher was reportedly ‘sick’ of having the bags in his study and had packed items such as Ms Dawson’s gardening gloves, nursing uniform and badge and a garter that she wore on their wedding day, the court heard that an entry read.
Also on Tuesday, the court heard Ms Dawson was greatly distressed before she vanished after becoming ‘cowered’ by her husband.
Ms Dawson’s sister Patricia Jenkins testified at the trial on Tuesday and told the court her sister ‘didn’t know what the future was going to be’.
The court heard that Ms Dawson initially appeared to have a happy marriage, but by 1981 there were tensions in the Bayview home about the presence of JC, a high school student babysitter who Mr Dawson was reportedly dating.
It was told tensions eased when Mr Dawson left the family in late 1981 but that Ms Dawson had little money and ‘didn’t know what the future was going to be’.
‘She was in great distress, I could tell by her voice,’ Ms Jenkins said.
Alleged murder victim Lynette Dawson was greatly distressed according to her sister Patricia Jenkins (pictured) before she vanished in January of 1982 from Sydney’s northern beaches
Chris Dawson a former Newtown Jets rugby league player and high school teacher, has pleaded not guilty to murdering mother-of-two Lynette Dawson (pictured, the couple together)
She agreed Ms Dawson was intelligent, made independent decisions and stood up to people, but said ‘I think she was cowered’ by Mr Dawson by 1981.
Quizzed in court over whether Ms Dawson could have needed a break from what was going on in the household, her sister conceded it was a remote possibility.
‘There’s always that little bit of hope you’re going to find her,’ she said.
Earlier, Ms Jenkins in her evidence became emotional, but declined a break in proceedings, when recalling a conversation with her sister a day or two before Christmas 1981 in which she was told that Mr Dawson had left the family.
The witness said Ms Dawson told her she came home to find a note on the bed from Mr Dawson that said: ‘Don’t paint too dark a picture of me to the girls’.
She said her sister told her Mr Dawson’s clothes and pillow were gone and that ‘she didn’t know if Chris was coming home again or not’, causing her to be upset.
Ms Dawson told her she later said to the girls their father had gone on holiday and gave each of them a kiss and said it was from him, Ms Jenkins told the court.
She also testified her sister told her she was worried about Mr Dawson’s health due to him being angry at her, and thought there may be a physical cause.
Ms Jenkins said she spoke of her husband’s ‘black eyes flashing’, trying to give him a hug but being pushed away, and him giving her ‘such a dirty look’.
The Crown claims Mr Dawson, now 73, killed his wife and disposed of her body because of an affair with one of his students, known as JC
The last time Ms Jenkins talked to her sister was on New Year’s Day 1982 when Ms Dawson told her of a ‘sad Christmas’ and a yacht party that Mr Dawson attended.
‘I’ve not seen her since then, not heard from her since then,’ Ms Jenkins said.
Also on Tuesday, Ms Jenkins conceded listening to the The Teacher’s Pet podcast and meeting with its creator Hedley Thomas.
‘It was very overwhelming to listen to it,’ Ms Jenkins said.
On Monday, the trial heard from Julie Andrew, a friend and neighbour of the alleged victim, who testified she saw Mr Dawson standing over his crying wife, screaming at her and shaking her shoulders in their backyard in late 1981 – weeks before she disappeared.
The judge-alone trial continues.