Questions raised over Lyn Dawson sighting

·3-min read

A brother-in-law's claims he saw Lynette Dawson alive in suburban Sydney after she disappeared in 1982 have come under fire in the NSW Supreme Court.

In the murder trial of Christopher Michael Dawson on Tuesday, audio recordings were played of testimony by Ross Hutcheon to the police in March 2019 and to the Local Court in February 2020.

Mr Hutcheon, who died this year, claimed he saw Mrs Dawson at a bus stop across the road from Gladesville Hospital. He says he was driving along Victoria Road three-to-six months after her January 1982 disappearance.

"She looked just like the Lyn that I knew. Same colour hair, same hairstyle, no sunglasses, no obvious attempt to disguise herself or anything like that," he told police at Midland in Perth in 2019.

In that interview, Detective Senior Constable Daniel Poole asked Mr Hutcheon about an earlier visit by two police officers in 1999 to his then family home in the Sydney suburb of Cromer.

The detective pointed out that no reference had been made of the Gladesville sighting to the police in 1999, according to the notes they had taken down at the time.

Mr Hutcheon remained adamant he had mentioned the incident, saying the statements taken by the police were "absolutely wrong".

After seeing Mrs Dawson and driving past, he claims he later did a u-turn and returned to speak with her, only to find her gone.

"I made a very, very, very big mistake by not stopping the car in the first place and not talking to Lyn," he told the Local Court in 2020.

He did not tell Chris Dawson at the time, saying he did not realise the implications of the alleged sighting, and only informed another brother-in-law Peter Dawson by email in 2018.

Mr Hutcheon's wife and Dawson's elder sister, Lynette Hutcheon, said she was certain her husband had mentioned the Gladesville incident to police in 1999.

She did not think the sighting was important enough to immediately tell her family about because of the feeling Mrs Dawson was alive but just needed time, the court heard.

"I thought that she was still in the area and she would, you know, settle things down and return."

While notes taken by the police suggest Mrs Hutcheon did not supply Dawson's contact number when requested in 1999, a phone call was intercepted between the two siblings the same day of the interview.

Mrs Hutcheon criticised the police officers for being too laid back and failing to record all important information divulged to them.

In the recorded phone call, Mrs Hutcheon is heard telling her brother that the police were looking into the disappearance of Mrs Dawson. She guessed his second wife, known only as JC, was being "smart" and creating difficulties due to a heated custody battle.

"We don't need her two cents worth like a hole in the head," Mrs Hutcheon said.

In court, she was sure she gave her brother's details to the police in 1999, appearing confused as to why only his address was provided and not his phone number.

Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with JC, who was his babysitter and one of his former students. The high school teacher and former Newtown Jets rugby league player has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Mrs Hutcheon told Justice Ian Harrison she heard Mrs Dawson had been seen after her disappearance on a coastal hippy commune somewhere north of Sydney.

She also said her aunt claimed to have seen Mrs Dawson selling handicrafts at a Sunday morning marketplace at a school car park in Beacon Hill sometime after her disappearance.

The court also heard that statements made by The Australian journalist Hedley Thomas to The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday were critical of the court's judicial processes and could impact future witness testimony.

In 2018, Mr Thomas produced The Teacher's Pet podcast which detailed the disappearance of Mrs Dawson and surrounding events.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting