A babysitter who worked for Chris Dawson has told his murder trial the former school teacher made her fear for her life and treated her like a “sex slave” after his wife Lynette vanished 40 years ago.
Mr Dawson, a former school teacher on Sydney’s northern beaches and Newtown Jets player, is accused of murdering his wife in January 1982 so he could pursue “a relationship” with the family’s 16-year-old babysitter.
He has pleaded not guilty and argues Ms Dawson made the decision to leave him and called him numerous times after she disappeared.
The former babysitter, who can only be identified as JC, has told a court Mr Dawson gave her a variety of explanations about where his wife had disappeared to, including that she had joined a religious group or had been seen in Perth and on the NSW Central Coast.
“There was never any solid evidence that was the case … I always felt it was a fob off just to shut me up,” JC said.
JC met Mr Dawson in 1980 when he taught her Year 11 physical education class and soon asked her to be his family’s babysitter.
She would later accept his invitation to move in with him and his wife.
JC told Justice Ian Harrison that, while she was away with family and friends at South West Rocks in early 1982, Mr Dawson rang her to say his wife had gone and wasn’t coming back.
On JC’s return to Sydney, she continued living with Mr Dawson at his family home in Bayview, began sleeping in his bed, and wearing Ms Dawson’s clothes.
She told the court she felt it was “odd” all of Ms Dawson’s belongings were still in the bedroom, including two diamond rings.
JC told the court Mr Dawson then started treating her like his “slave”.
“I was taking care of two children, having to learn to cook, having to learn to clean … having to learn how to be a substitute house-keeper, sex slave, step-mother, babysitter … slave … just a slave, “she told the court.
In 1984 the couple married and in 1985 they had their first and only child, Kristen.
JC told the court her relationship with Mr Dawson went through an “enormous” change because she had a stronger bond with Kristen compared to the Dawson children, Shanelle and Sherryn.
JC says she then started to see a more violent side of Mr Dawson.
The relationship continued to deteriorate and, on one occasion, JC says she told the former professional footballer: “You got rid of your first wife, you could easily get rid of me”.
“He stood completely still … and said ‘do not say things like that’,” she told the court.
In 1990 JC divorced Mr Dawson, won custody of her daughter and met with some of Ms Dawson’s family to see what they knew about her disappearance.
During cross-examination of JC, Mr Dawson’s barrister Pauline David argued she had genuine affection for him during the “early stage of the 1980s” to which JC replied: “In the grooming stage, you mean?”
Ms David then accused JC of making up evidence she previously gave about Mr Dawson contemplating getting a hit man to kill his wife.
The first time she shared this information with anyone was in 1990, when the couple were going through their divorce.
“You made up a story about a hit man to stop from getting access to your daughter?” Ms David argued.
“That’s ridiculous, I did not make up this story, this is true,” she responded.
JC also denied Ms David’s suggestion she was unkind and argumentative towards Ms Dawson and wanted Mr Dawson all to herself, instead claiming she actually wanted him to “leave me alone”.
When it was suggested JC had plenty of time to get away, she said any time she tried to escape, it resulted in abuse.
Ms David then accused her of being on a mission to destroy Mr Dawson’s character – a claim she strongly denied while breaking down.
“I’m not going to destroy him, he will destroy himself for what he has done to people, to me and to Lyn. I’m telling the truth.”
She later denied claims she resented Ms Dawson’s two daughters and locked them in a laundry or brushed their hair so hard it left them with scalp injuries.
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