No jury for ex-teacher's wife murder trial

·1-min read

Pre-trial publicity will result in Chris Dawson standing trial without a jury for the murder of his wife four decades ago.

The former teacher and professional rugby league player, 73, is accused of killing his wife Lynette following her 1982 disappearance from Sydney.

Justice Robert Beech-Jones on Monday in the NSW Supreme Court ordered that the trial proceed by judge-alone following an application by Dawson centred on pre-trial publicity in his case.

His counsel Pauline David argued against the "fade factor" of publicity, saying he'd been labelled a probable murderer for so long it was "not something that is just going to go away" in people's minds.

The Crown, in opposing the application, cited higher court findings that there were measures in place to deal with the "potential impact of the prejudicial publicity".

Last month the High Court dismissed Dawson's application to have the case permanently halted. Similar appeals to have the case stayed were previously dismissed by the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeal.

Dawson unsuccessfully sought a further trial delay on Monday after his lawyers found out on Friday afternoon that he'd been refused legal aid.

"The interests of justice in the matter proceeding as soon as possible are very strong," Justice Beech-Jones said.

He said that an appeal of the legal aid decision would be enhanced by his decision on a judge-alone trial.

"A judge-alone trial will at least for the parties reduce the costs because it can be safely accepted, especially at the time of COVID, that criminal trials will take a much shorter time conducted by a judge-alone," the judge said.

The trial will be conducted by Justice Ian Harrison and is scheduled to start on Monday.

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