[News] Chris Dawson said wife Lynette left him to join commune, court hears

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Sinclair said Chris did not respond but “looked at his brother”. Under cross-examination, she said her impression was that “Chris was looking to Paul to confirm that what he was saying was OK”.

She said after listening to episodes of The Australian’s podcast The Teacher’s Pet, she contacted journalist Hedley Thomas to provide the information.

Sinclair accepted defence solicitor Greg Walsh’s suggestion that the podcast portrayed Dawson as being responsible for Lynette’s murder. “It portrayed him as being abusive,” she said.

She said she was asked by Thomas about the body language between the Dawson twins and had described it as “creepy”. She told the court she liked to think she was good at interpreting body language, having interviewed thousands of candidates over 30 years as a recruiter.

Sinclair said the suggestion that she had been interested in the story Thomas wanted to tell “wasn’t the motivation at all”. She gave a statement to police in August 2018.

Walsh asked: “It [the podcast] had impacted upon you such that you had a very biased view towards both of the Dawsons?”

“No, definitely not,” Sinclair replied. “I knew about the Dawsons way before the podcast.”

She dismissed the suggestion she was mistaken or lying about what was said by Chris and Paul.

“I’m not a liar,” Sinclair said.

Malcolm Downie, who lived next door to the Dawson couple in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said Lynette would sometimes be at his house having coffee with his then wife Julie Andrew.

He said Lynette had once knocked on their laundry door “nervy and upset” when his wife was out and asked: “Is Julie here?”

Downie said he had asked Lynette if she was all right, and she replied, “oh, marital problems”.

“I said, ‘oh, join the club, things haven’t been going too well here either’, and that was pretty much the conversation.”

He said it was “strange” that she did not have her daughters with her as their children would play together and she “never went without her children”.

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He did not see or hear from Lynette again and estimated it was “only a matter of weeks” until he was told, assuming from his wife, “that she’d run away”.

The court was played recorded evidence from Elva McBay, a late family friend of the Dawsons who claimed she saw a woman who looked like Lynette during a royal visit in March, 1983.

McBay said she and her husband were on the Sydney Hospital side of Macquarie Street as Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s car approached, when she saw a woman to her left.

“The lady ducked under the barricades and ran in front of the car and ran across to the other side of the road,” she said. “I turned to my husband … and said, ‘I think that was Lynette Dawson’.”

She said the woman was “too quick” for her to confirm it was Lynette. She could not remember what she was wearing but said she “must’ve seen the lady’s face” before she was swallowed by the big crowd.

“My husband did not say anything, I don’t think he was watching. At some stage, I told Paul and Chris about seeing a lady that I thought was Lynette.”

The Crown is seeking to disprove the reported sightings and alleges Dawson murdered Lynette on or about January 8, 1982, motivated by a desire to have an unfettered relationship with the babysitter JC, who became his second wife. Dawson’s judge-alone trial before Justice Ian Harrison continues.

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