My dad Chris Dawson murdered mum and moved lover, 16, into home – then hid tracks with warped Antiques Roadshow theory

My dad Chris Dawson murdered mum and moved lover, 16, into home – then hid tracks with warped Antiques Roadshow theory

WHEN doting mum Lynette Dawson went missing from her local neighbourhood, leaving her two daughters with not even a goodbye, her loved ones knew something was wrong.

Just hours later, husband Chris Dawson – who insisted she’d left him – had moved their teenage babysitter Joanne Curtis into the marital bedroom.

SuppliedFor decades it was claimed Lynette Dawson abandoned her two daughters and husband[/caption]

Last year, Chris Dawson was found guilty of murdering his wife Lyn in 1982Rex

Within days, the 16-year-old was wearing Lyn’s clothes and even her wedding ring.

But despite the former nurse’s loved ones piling pressure on police to launch an investigation, it was a crime podcast that helped to re-open the case, leaving over 30 million listeners hooked.

Four decades after her disappearance, on August 3, 2022, charismatic PE teacher Dawson was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

But daughter Shanelle – who was just four when her mum vanished – admits there’s still a place in her heart for the man she once dubbed ‘her hero’.

Recalling the day he was sentenced, the mother, now 45, admits: “I couldn’t see my father but I could hear the jingling of the handcuffs.

“And I know this sounds really crazy but I wanted to give him a hug.

“I know he’s done a horrible, terrible thing. I know parts of him are a horrible, horrible person and yet I still love him.”

Her younger sister, Sherryn, was just two when their mum disappeared from their leafy home on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia.

7NEWSChris and Lyn Dawson had been married for 12 years[/caption]

Joanne Curtis (middle) was a schoolgirl when she became romantically involved with Chris Dawson

The year before, their dad had asked if 16-year-old Joanne Curtis – a student from the school he taught at – could move in to help babysit because she was going through some difficulties at home.

From there on in, rumours spread locally that Joanne and Chris, who at 31 was nearly twice her age, were having an affair.

Despite a veneer of perfect family life, Lyn admitted to those closest to her that her marriage was crumbling.

Speaking as part of a four-part Sky Crime series airing later this month called The Murder of Lyn Dawson, Shanelle tells how in later years she went under hypnosis to try to piece together her mother’s final moments.

In one of those sessions, she believes memories resurfaced of what might have been the night her dad killed her mother.

She says: “I recall an argument in the kitchen. I assume I was woken up and came in. So then at one point, it flashes to my father putting my mother into the car.

“That’s what I see. My sister and I in the back seat. I saw my mother slumped down. I believe I saw him get a shovel in the back of the car and start digging.”

She goes on: “The image is of headlights at a hill and my father digging.

“I believe that is my memory. I believe that actually happened. I really wish I could remember the sequence of events.”

‘Obsessed’ with teen lover

Chris Dawson with partner Joanne Curtis, their baby Kristin, Shanelle and Sherryn, in 1985

On Joanne’s 17th birthday, Chris wrote in a card ‘We will share all the birthdays to follow’

Chris had been married to his childhood sweetheart Lyn for 12 years before her disappearance in 1982.

Just two years later, in 1984, he married Joanne – originally known as JC in court to protect her identity.

He even had Lyn’s wedding ring adapted as a new wedding band for her.

By 1985 they’d had a daughter, but their marriage ended when Joanne – who has never publicly spoken – left him in 1990.

As a child, Shanelle remembers clearly the impact Joanne had on home life.

She said: “[Dad] was very obsessed with JC and my mother had become a hindrance.

“I remember him and JC arguing a lot. It was usually, from my memory though, for how she treated us. So as a child, I came to perceive him as this hero.”

She adds: “I didn’t see his dark side as a child.”

In 2000, the garden at their former Sydney home was partially excavated. A pink cardigan was found and appeared to have been slashed with a knife – but it didn’t have Lynette’s DNA on it.

At an inquest a year later, in February 2001, the coroner determined that Lynette had been murdered by someone she knew.

But prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction. Then, at a second inquest in 2003, the coroner said Dawson should be charged. Again, the prosecutors refused.

Podcast breakthrough

News Corp AustraliaLyn admitted to her closest friends that her marriage was crumbling[/caption]

7 NewsChris was arrested after the case was reopened[/caption]

But the breakthrough came from a 2018 podcast called The Teacher’s Pet.

The 16-part crime series, released by journalist Hedley Thomas, looked at Lynette’s disappearance, rumours of Dawson’s guilt and his alleged sexual misconduct with his pupils. It also covered alleged flaws in the investigation.

The podcast was downloaded close to 30 million times worldwide and was number one in the charts in several countries, including the UK. It made the pressure to find answers even stronger.

Finally, in December 2018, 36 years after Lynette went missing, Dawson was charged with her murder.

He pleaded not guilty and was released from prison on bail. While it was a big breakthrough, the legal proceedings stalled.

Dawson’s legal team said the publicity around the case would prejudice the outcome.

They argued for a temporary delay on the trial and said Dawson had been taunted by other inmates, who called him the “teacher’s pet”.

Dawson’s judge-only trial began in May last year, lasting 10 weeks. It was an unusual trial in that the prosecution had to use circumstantial evidence to support their case.

In his judgement, Justice Ian Harrison said he had been convinced by – among other points – numerous lies he found Dawson had told after he killed his wife.

Despite being convicted, the former teacher has never admitted to Lyn’s murder.

Antiques Roadshow theory

Shanelle has spent years trying to find her mother’s body with her own searches – in the hope she can finally get some closure.

She said: ”I still feel that this would be the last missing piece of the puzzle to find peace with the situation.”

After receiving death threats behind bars, Dawson was moved from Sydney’s notoriously tough Silverwater jail to Macquarie Correctional Centre near Wellington, New South Wales.

Apex News & PicturesOne bizarre theory emerged claiming that Lyn had appeared on BBC’s Antique Roadshow[/caption]

NSW PoliceLyn’s body has never been found[/caption]

He and Shanelle, who has a young daughter, no longer speak because his deceit has become too much for her.

She says: “I grew up believing that our mother left us. There was no reason not to believe that wasn’t the case because my father was very convincing.

“My dad stood in front of me and said, ‘I swear to god I never hurt your mum’.”

Over the years, reported public sightings of her mother only sought to confuse allegations she’d been killed.

One person even claimed to have spotted her on an episode of Antiques Roadshow in England.

She says: “When I was in Cornwall, where Antiques Roadshow was filmed, my father sent me an email saying, ‘You should go and see if you can find out if your mother is there.’

“That’s the kind of behaviour I feel outraged by. How could you dangle that kind of hope in your daughter’s heart?

“Maybe that was in his delusional mind of not believing that he’d killed her. Maybe he grasps on to these possibilities? I don’t know. Obviously, I do a lot of trying to understand how it’s possible.”

‘Coerced, manipulated & abused’

Shannelle admits she was suspicious of what her stepmother knew about the killing.

She found it particularly odd that Lyn’s ring was turned into the girls’ wedding band.

Getty – ContributorJoanne Curtis, Chris Dawson’s former lover, was called to give evidence at Lyn’s inquest in 2003[/caption]

© Sky UKShanelle Dawson urged her father to reveal where Lyn was buried[/caption]

Shanelle admits: “I have to question how someone could step into a mother’s home, take over mothering their children, be wearing their clothes, their engagement ring and not question, ‘What the f*** happened to the wife?’

“It was very difficult to fathom. My father is a 31-year-old grooming a 16-year-old. That’s disgusting.

“My feelings towards JC have evolved over the years. I can see now that she was coerced and manipulated and abused and I feel really sad for her that that was her experience at such a young, tender age.”

Life will never be the same for Shanelle, but the pain of holding her dad responsible has also helped repair other wounds.

She says: “I think it’s horrible that we grew up believing that she abandoned us.

“When I came into the belief it was my dad it sort of healed all my abandonment issues but opened up another wound that had always been there festering.

“I don’t understand how he was able to look us in the eyes – our daughters who he supposedly loves – and tell us that she abandoned us.”

The Murder Of Lyn Dawson airs on Sky Crime, on November 29

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