Chris Dawson’s murder trial has been shown haunting sketches Lynette Dawson commissioned of her two daughters but never got the chance to collect before her disappearance.
The artist who drew the portraits, Kristin Hardiman, told the court that Lyn ‘was very excited’ about the portraits after approaching her at the 1981 Christmas fair at Narrabeen High School.
She had arranged to go to the Dawson’s Bayview home in Sydney’s northern beaches to photograph the ‘children dressed in beautiful … broderie anglaise dresses, they had their hair beautifully done’.
Ms Hardiman said she had subsequently phoned the Dawson house in mid-January to speak with Lyn about the completed sketches, Chris Dawson answered the phone.
‘(He) said she’d gone away and doesn’t want them anymore. It was very, very strange. I asked if Chris wanted to see the drawings because they were of his children and he said “no”.
‘I remember it very clearly because it was so odd.’ Some time later, Ms Hardiman went to the police about Lyn’s disappearance.
The trial also heard on Wednesday taped phone conversations between the accused’s sister-in-law and her sister in which they referred to Lynette Dawson as ‘a bitch’, ‘a nasty woman at time’ who had ‘moments when she was cruel’.
‘I thinks she ws a dissatisfied person , accumulate, accumulate but it didn’t give her any pleasure,’ Kay Luschwitz said in the taped 1999 conversation to Marilyn Dawson, the wife of Chris Dawson’s twin, Paul.
Speaking after she had been interview by police in 1999 about the possibility Lynette had been allegedly murdered, Marilyn Dawson said of the Dawson twins, ‘I know they have boys’ talks, but they wouldn’t be plotting murder.
‘I think Paul would do anything for his brother, but I didn’t mean he would kill.’
Artist Kristin Hardiman took these photographs of Lynette Dawson’s daughters for the ‘very excited’ mother’s commission of portraits but when the sketches were finished, Lyn had already been allegedly murdered
When Ms Hardiman phoned the Dawson house about the drawings, Chris Dawson told her Lyn had ‘gone away and doesn’t want them anymore. It was very, very strange’
When the artist asked Chris Dawson if he wanted to see the portraits of his daughters , he said no he didn’t which she found very odd and later phoned police
Marilyn said in the phone conversation that Chris Dawson ws ‘not capable’ of killing Lyn Dawson and that he was an ‘upstanding citizen who work hard, lives well, is very kind to his family and he’s respectful’.
Chris Dawson, 73, is accused of killing his wife Lynette Dawson and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with one of his former students, known as JC, while holding onto assets including the family home in Bayview, Sydney.
He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
The court also heard on Wednesday a taped phone conversation between Marilyn Dawson and the twins’ parents, Joan and Sid.
Marilyn and Paul had just been ‘interrogated for and hour-and-a-half’ each and was indignant at ‘nasty’ and ‘shocking’ interview in which she said police had suggested Chris had killed Lyn to save him from paying child maintenance fees.
‘He’s had to pay maintenance to (JC) for eight years, on your theory he should have knocked off his second wife too … he should have killed (JC) too,’ Marilyn told Joan she’d said to police.
Marilyn Dawson said that she had become aware of Lyn’s marriage problems before her disappearance, and had urged her to ‘fight’ for her marriage which had become ‘very shaky’.
‘Towards the end of 1981 … we knew things weren’t good. (Lyn) was such a strong girl, I wanted her to stand up and be counted about her home and her children and her marriage,’ Marilyn said.
‘I thought she was devastated … and mentally not coping. She couldn’t believe what was going on.
‘I think she was deeply hurt and struggling and I tried to boost her up and say “come on you need to fight”.’
Marilyn Dawson ( second left) the wife of Chris Dawson’s identical twin Paul, (left, at Chris’s wedding to JC) said she gave him and the then babysitter her marital bed in December 1981, weeks before Lyn vanished
Chris and Paul Dawson with their wives Marilyn and Lynette plus children at the beach in the 1970s before, Marilyn told the court, Chris slept with the babysitter in her bed
However, asked by crown prosecutor Craig Everson SC who used her bed on Christmas Day, 1981, Marilyn said ‘Chris and (JC) because they asked if they could stay at my home’.
She said when Chris asked to use it, she had said ‘Yes’, and then agreed not to tell Lyn or anyone else about it, as Chris and the babysitter had secretly returned to Sydney after going away to Queensland together.
Marilyn described the very close relationship Paul and Chris Dawson had, wearing the same or matching clothes, having the same favourite drink, Coca Cola, living in the same house as they built new houses in the same street, 400m from each other.
When both twins moved to the Gold Coast, Chris with JC as his new wife, the twins built houses 500m metres from one another behind wire fences, each with a swimming pool and tennis court.
They were both colour blind, played football together, both became PE teachers – and their wives even had the same baby doctor, ‘Dr John Murray our obstetrician’
In earlier testimony on Tuesday, the court heard JC – who later became Chris Dawson’s schoolgirl wife – allegedly told her best friend on the Gold Coast that he had ‘murdered his first wife’ and urged her ‘go to police’ if she ‘didn’t make it out’.
Toni Melrose-Mikeska became friends with the former babysitter turned Chris Dawson’s second wife at Dreamworld in 1987 when ‘JC’ and her young daughter attended her performances as Coo-ee the Gumnut Fairy in the Kenny Koala show.
JC and her daughter attended her performances every week and the little girl even had her own mini gumnut fairy costume made.
The trial heard that JC told Ms Melrose-Mikeska about ‘mental abuse’ and that Dawson had a ‘short fuse temper’.
But she hadn’t really discussed her marriage to Dawson until the night she left him when she stayed at Ms Melrose-Mikeska’s Southport home before escaping to Sydney with her daughter.
‘She said “I’m heading back to Sydney” and she was going to go to the police and she said if she doesn’t make it, I was to go to police and tell them some information she’ relayed to me,’ Ms Melrose-Mikeska said via video link from Tweed Heads.
Ms Melrose-Mikeska befriended JC and her young daughter when they attended almost every performance by her at Dreamworld where she played (above, centre) the character of Coo-ee the Gumnut Fairy
JC (above with her baby daughter and Lynette Dawson’s two daughters) did not open up about her marriage to Dawson until she left, except to say he had a bad temper and told her what to do and to wear ‘baggy’ clothes
She said JC had described a visit to a pub by Dawson to meet a man and hand over an envelope shortly before his first wife Lyn disappeared.
On the night in Southport after leaving Dawson, JC had told Ms Melrose-Mikeska, ‘ I think he murdered his first wife’.
The court heard another friend, whose family built Dreamworld and met JC on the Gold Coast, said JC ‘said to me should anything happen to her I was to go to the police. She thought (Dawson’s) first wife had been killed”.
Karen Longhurst said JC had indicated that Dawson had ‘taunted’ his first wife, saying ‘Chris used to wander around the house singing songs (like) “I don’t love you any more”.’
Chris Dawson’s murder trial heard on Tuesday that he made his schoogilr second wifge wear ‘baggy’ clothes and she had to get his permission to play women’ sport at night
When Ms Longhurst asked about that first wife, she said JC told her she and Lynette’s daughters ‘just call her fatty and we don’t talk about it’.
Ms Longhurst also recalled one time she invited JC and her daughter on a visit to Pacific Fair shopping centre with her and her son and that JC spent no money, and brought her own lunch to eat in the car.
She said she had been ‘quite taken aback’ when JC told her that after buying groceries she would have to give Chris Dawson ‘the shopping list and the change to show what she bought’.
Ms Longhurst also said JC had been in a rush before Chris had come home to make sure there was Coca Cola in the frig, because one time someone had drunk it and he had gone ‘nuts’.
After leaving her marriage to Dawson in 1990, JC would stay with Ms Melrose-Mikeska when she brought her daughter with Dawson up for ‘visitation rights’ stays with him.
She said after each visit, the daughter would cower from her mother and ‘cling to me like a koala’.
‘(JC”s daughter) was scared of her, (JC) found it quite traumatic.
Chris Dawson is accused of murdering his wife Lynette (above the couple together in the 1970s) in January 1982 when she vanished and has never been heard of again
Chris Dawson arriving at his murder trial at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney
The crown’s witnesses have attempted to paint Dawson as a violent, controlling and abusive husband, with testimony emerging that Mrs Dawson had been seen variously with a black eye, and bruises around her throat and on her arms and thigh.
Witnesses have said they saw him shove his wife’s face into the dirt, swing her into a doorframe, and demean her with insults such as ‘fatso’.
Speaking from the witness box, JC claimed she drove with Dawson to a building somewhere south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge where he tried to hire a hitman to get rid of his wife.
She said she was moved into the Dawson family home in January 1982 where she was treated as a housekeeper, babysitter and sex slave.
Former schoolgirl JC at her wedding to Chris Dawson in 1984, aged 19, wearing a wedding ring made from the diamonds of Dawson’s first wife Lynette’s wedding and eternity rings
The schoolgirl JC who became the Dawson’s babysitter and then after first wife Lynette disappeared, Chris Dawson’s teen bride, went to police after her own marriage to him broke down
JC and Dawson married in 1984 and separated in 1990.
The court has also heard Dawson allegedly threatened a high school student who asked JC out, and had told conflicting stories about his wife’s whereabouts after her disappearance.
Dawson’s legal team has argued the witnesses’ testimony has been contaminated because they had talked about the case with each other and had listened to The Teacher’s Pet podcast about the mystery surrounding Mrs Dawson, arguing it was broadcast with an assumption that her husband was guilty.
They have also argued that because these events happened four decades ago and memories have faded over time, the testimony given now is not an accurate portrayal of what happened.
Dawson claims JC’s allegations are lies spurred by a bitter custody battle which occurred after their 1990 break-up.