Teacher’s pet bombshell: Teen lover key to arrest
The one-time teenage lover of schoolteacher Chris Dawson will be the police's star witness in the potential trial against him for the alleged murder of his wife.
News Corp Australia can reveal that Joanne Curtis, who moved into the family's Bayview home two days after Lyn Dawson, 33, went missing in 1982, has revealed fresh information which led to Dawson's arrest on the Gold Coast yesterday.
She is one of a raft of witnesses, both old and new, who police said helped "tie the pieces of the puzzle together".
They now believe her body is buried in a lonely bush grave.
"They corroborate Joanne's evidence," a senior police source said of the fellow witnesses.
Allegations that the former rugby league star and Cromer High School sports teacher Chris Dawson, 70, was violent towards Lyn also emerged when he appeared before Southport Magistrates Court yesterday.
Dawson is expected to be flown to Sydney this morning to face court after being arrested in a granny flat attached to the Gold Coast home of his daughter Sherryn.
It is understood police had been tracking his movements.
NSW Homicide Squad chief Scott Cook said Dawson had been "calm and a little taken aback" after being arrested almost 37 years since his wife disappeared on January 9, 1982.
Detectives have three times excavated the family's former multi-million property in Gilwinga Drive, Bayview - the most recent dig conducted in September - looking for evidence of Ms Dawson's death.
Police now believe she was murdered in the house and her body, which has never been found, buried in bushland in Sydney's north.
"There are some broad working theories," Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said yesterday about the location of the body.
"I have said from the start what is important to me was justice for Lynette Dawson and her family."
In 2015, detectives from the Homicide Squad's Unsolved Homicide Unit established Strike Force Scriven to reinvestigate the disappearance of the registered nurse and mother-of-two, who her husband has maintained walked out on the family.
Police will use previous interviews they had conducted with him as evidence in the case.
They presented a brief of evidence to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in April and The Australian newspaper's award-winning podcast, The Teacher's Pet, led to two more people coming forward to "support" their case.
As they were arresting Dawson at 8am yesterday, detectives were ringing Lyn's family and Joanne Curtis with the news.
"I'm the happiest man alive today and if Lynette is up there looking down, she'd be smiling at us," Lyn's brother Greg Simms, of Lake Macquarie, said.
"I am ecstatic, very emotional and teary.
"I'm just so relieved, I want to find out every detail of what happened to my sister, every minute detail.
"It's been years and, finally, we might get closure."
Ms Curtin could not be contacted at her Dee Why home yesterday.
She was 16 when she began an affair with Chris Dawson and babysat the couple's daughters, Sherryn and Shanelle who were aged two and four when their mum disappeared almost 37 years ago.
Ms Curtis and Dawson married in 1984 and have since divorced with Dawson marrying again.
Another former babysitter for the Dawsons, Bev McNally, of Cromer, said she will be one of the new witnesses who has made statements to police.
Ms McNally said she was speaking to Shanelle on Wednesday night and texted her yesterday following news of her father's arrest.
"She's coping," Ms McNally told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
"She was trying to prepare herself but nothing prepares you for this.
"It is a happy day and a sad one. People have to remember that as well.
"His daughters have had their world re-shattered. We have to feel for them too."
Two inquests have found Dawson was responsible for his wife's death.
In Southport Local Court yesterday, Magistrate Dennis Kinsella said the police case would hinge on allegations of Dawson's illicit affair and the deterioration of his relationship with his wife.
"His desire was to leave the relationship and there were outstanding property issues," Mr Kinsella said.
There had been evidence of domestic violence in his marriage, the court heard.
The prosecution is expected to allege Ms Dawson was not "financially viable" to leave the marriage and had no desire to leave the area.
Barefoot and wearing a crumpled khaki T-shirt and green shorts, Dawson sat quietly in the dock with his head bowed as the duty lawyer, Rachael Barnes, applied for bail on his behalf.
She told the court he was willing to live with his twin brother in NSW and hand himself in to authorities.
Magistrate Kinsella said Dawson was an unacceptable risk of failing to appear, and remanded him in the custody of NSW detectives to appear in a Sydney court today.
He spent his first night behind bars.
Additional reporting Danielle Gusmaroli, Julie Cross & Derrick Krusche