Chris Dawson murder trial: Judge points out ‘very, very troubling’ issue as witnesses age

The judge overseeing Christopher Michael Dawson’s murder trial has questioned how he should use a multitude of evidence in the case that implied a violent and abusive marriage.

On Friday, Justice Ian Harrison mentioned that testimony and statements in the case claimed Lynette Dawson had been seen with bruises or black eyes, but did not actually point to who caused those injuries.

‘In my perception, there are no bright lights shining in this area. It’s all a bit dark and dingy and I might need some particular help,’ he said.

Even if 53 witnesses came forward saying Mrs Dawson had bruises but could not say who caused them, the judge asked what he needed to consider to determine that Dawson was actually the culprit.

‘It’s a very, very troubling issue,’ he said.

Chris Dawson (left) leaves the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on Friday. He has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife in 1982

Lynnette, 33, vanished from her home in Bayview on Sydney's northern beaches

Lynnette, 33, vanished from her home in Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches 

Crown prosecutor Craig Everson SC dodged answering the question, saying the judge instead had to look at the murder charge and whether the evidence presented proved the elements of this offence.

The prosecution has brought forward a parade of witnesses in the NSW Supreme Court alleging Dawson had a tendency to act violently or aggressively towards his wife, although this has been disputed in testimony by family members. 

Although a body has never been found, Dawson, now 73, is accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with a woman known as JC who was his babysitter and former high school student.

He has pleaded not guilty and denies any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.

Also on Friday, the court heard more evidence of an alleged conversation in which Dawson asked fellow rugby league player Robert Silkman if he knew someone to get rid of his wife in 1975.

The discussion allegedly took place on a crowded plane flight from the Gold Coast to Sydney when Silkman was seated next to friend Ray Lee.

Silkman, who has a number of convictions for theft and one for arson, previously gave evidence of the conversation.

He claims Dawson talked to him whilst kneeling down in the aisle of the plane after the Newtown Jets’ Gold Coast holiday where they had watched Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the fight billed as the Thrilla in Manila.

Mr Lee, who was born in 1955, said on Friday that he did not remember the purported discussion, despite Silkman claiming he was seated next to him at the time, but said he discussed the topic with his friend later while in his 20s.

Dawson’s solicitor Greg Walsh suggested a conversation in which someone asks about getting rid of their wife would be something one would never forget.

‘Yeah, you would think so,’ Mr Lee replied.  

Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife Lynette and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with a woman known as JC who was his babysitter and former high school student

Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife Lynette and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with a woman known as JC who was his babysitter and former high school student 

The court also heard on Friday that a witness couldn't recall if he heard Dawson ask if he knew someone who could 'get rid of' Lynette

The court also heard on Friday that a witness couldn’t recall if he heard Dawson ask if he knew someone who could ‘get rid of’ Lynette 

Detective Senior Constable Mark O’Reilly met security guard Silkman while they were both working at the Qudos Bank Arena. He told the court that in September 2018 Silkman told him about the alleged plane conversation.

He said he had not discussed the topic of a reward for information, which was $200,000 in January 2014, with Silkman at any time.

Silkman has previously been accused by Dawson’s legal counsel of making the story up to receive the reward money.

Mr Lee admitted Silkman was a scallywag but denied suggestions his friend was a ‘big-noter’, or someone who exaggerates their stories.

Author Rebecca Hazel returned to the witness box on Friday afternoon and cross-examined about interviews she had done with former detective Damian Loone in 2012.

In those interviews Mr Loone, who investigated Mrs Dawson’s disappearance from 1998 to 2015, said that after he had spoken to JC, he was sure that Dawson was a murderer and that his gut instincts were never wrong.

‘As I get older, I’m more determined. Everyone knows me. Everyone knows I’m after him,’ she quoted him as saying.

In February 2019, Ms Hazel published a book on Chris and Lynette Dawson and JC titled, The Schoolgirl, Her Teacher And His Wife. 

The trial continues on Monday.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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