The daughter of convicted killer Chris Dawson has revealed she remembers seeing Lynette Dawson slumped’ in the front seat of a car and her father ‘digging’ near the family pool on the night her mother died.
Shanelle Dawson said her memories as a four-year-old resurfaced when police placed her under hypnosis in a desperate attempt to piece together what happened to Lynette on the night she vanished back in January, 1982.
She told 60 Minutes that she saw her father pulling shovels out the back of the car and car headlights shining at a spot near the family swimming pool.
Shanelle believes Dawson buried her mother by the pool that night before moving her body elsewhere the following day while he was alone.
Shanelle Dawson (pictured) believes her mother was buried by the pool that night before Dawson moved her body elsewhere the following day when he was alone
Shanelle told 60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort that while under hypnosis she had been able to revisit her feelings as a child as well as her mothers.
‘It was really pretty profound. I believe I saw my sister and I in the back of a car, and my mother slumped in the front,’ she said.
‘I believe I saw him digging in that spot for that night, and then the next day, when he didn’t have us kids, he moved her somewhere else.
‘And I guess people could question how much is that created? How much is that actual memory?’
Steinfort asked Shanelle if she believes that what she saw while under hypnosis were true memories, to which she replied: ‘I think they are, yes’.
The revelation comes after Dawson was found guilty of murdering his wife Lynette at a judge-alone trial at the NSW Supreme Court that began in August.
Lynette Dawson (above with Shanelle) was never seen again after vanishing in January, 1982
Shanelle said she saw her father shining headlights at an area near the pool (pictured) while under hypnosis
Shanelle had suspect her father had killed her mother for years before the trial but said his conviction had still come as a shock.
‘”Chris Dawson, I find you guilty,” I heard them say, and I was just in shock,’ she said.
‘I just couldn’t fathom it really. This Dad that I love actually did do it, and that is now recognised by our justice system.’
Shanelle said living in the United States for nine years gave her distance from Dawson and his ‘abusive’ and ‘toxic’ family dynamics.
‘I could see that he was gaslighting us all the time. When I came back into the family that relationship changed quite drastically,’ she said.
‘My father embodies the survival of the fittest and f*** everyone else to get what you want. I feel an anger and rage towards him for being that way, but I simultaneously feel compassion and sadness that he is that way.’
Chris Dawson was found guilty of murdering his first wife Lyn. Her body has never been found
Shanelle revealed her last correspondence with Dawson was on Father’s Day in 2018 – just three months before he was arrested at his Queensland home.
In the message, she asked her father to take responsibility for the pain he had caused the family when he ‘selfishly’ ripped Lynette, then 33, from their lives.
Dawson’s ‘breathtaking’ response suggested Shanelle was lonely and depressed because she had a daughter and no partner to support her.
He told his daughter that unfortunately, everyone had to live with their ‘poor choices’ and said Shanelle didn’t have to remind him of his.
‘That’s how he takes responsibility, by deflecting it on to other people,’ she said.
‘I was actually very happy in my life except for that big thing called my father murdering my mum.’
Chris Dawson (pictured) lodged the paperwork flagging his intention to appeal the murder conviction
Justice Ian Harrison found it was beyond reasonable doubt that Lynette Dawson (above with Chris Dawson on her wedding day) did not leave her home in Bayview voluntarily
Shanelle said she doubted her father would ever reveal what really happened on the night he killed her mother because he ‘believes his own lies’.
She said she would only have closure when she received these details.
‘It won’t be anytime soon. Truth for me is what brings peace,’ she said.
Shanelle said if she could speak to her mother she would tell her that she was sorry, that she loved her and would thank her for the first four-and-a-half years of her life.
She became emotional while admitting she wished she could see Lynette spend time with her daughter and said people take having a loving family for granted.
‘I always thought, I wish I had one of those,’ she said.
‘I hope anyone listening to this will go and appreciate their mums just that little bit more, tell them that they love about them and thank them for all the things they do.’
60 Minute’s reporter Tom Steinfort also became emotional.
‘You got me there,’ he said while wiping tears from his eyes.
Lynette, pictured with her husband Chris and one of their daughters disappeared without a trace in January 1981
Shanelle’s revelation comes after Dawson’s Supreme Court trial was told police received ‘a lot’ of anonymous phone calls from people who claimed Lynette’s body was buried under the swimming pool at the home in Bayview.
Former detective Damian Loone told the trial police had considered this theory because the pool had been paved shortly after Lynette vanished.
Asked under cross-examination how this idea had come about, Detective Loone said it was during an interview with JC, the schoolgirl babysitter who had replaced Lynette as Chis Dawson’s partner and later his wife.
The trial had earlier heard JC swam topless and naked in the pool while living at the Dawson house at Gillwinga Drive in Sydney’s northern beaches, and babysitting the couple’s two young daughters before Lynette disappeared.
Chris Dawson arrives at the NSW Supreme Court in his last moments of freedom before Justice Harrison convicted him of murdering his wife Lyn in 1982
‘She was going for a swim in the swimming pool and when she went to get out of the pool and put her hands on the pool to get out it was dirt, and sometime after it was paved,’ he said.
In 2000, police conducted a major dig near the swimming pool at the Bayview home and uncovered pieces of a pink cardigan with slash marks.
However, forensic analysis was unable to link the material to Lynette.
Last week, Dawson lodged the paperwork for an appeal against his conviction for his first wife’s murder and remains in Sydney’s Silverwater Jail awaiting sentencing.
The 74-year-old former Newtown Jets rugby league star has always professed his innocence over any involvement in Lynette’s disappearance.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS FOLLOWING LYN DAWSON’S DISAPPEARANCE:
January 1982 – Lynette ‘Lyn’ Dawson, 33, disappears from her home at Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches, leaving behind two young daughters. The family’s babysitter, a schoolgirl who can only be identified as JC, moves into the home within days.
February – Chris Dawson, a teacher and former Newtown Jets rugby league player, reports his wife missing some six weeks after he says she disappeared.
2001 – An inquest recommended a ‘known person’ be charged with Mrs Dawson’s murder, but the Director of Public Prosecutions later says the evidence was not tested because no witnesses were called.
2003 – A second inquest calls witnesses and recommends a known person be charged with murder, referring the matter to the DPP. Again, no charges are laid.
2010 – NSW Police announce a $100,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction.
2014 – The reward is doubled to $200,000.
2015 – Strikeforce Scriven is established and the Dawsons’ entire Bayview block is mapped.
April 2018 – Scriven detectives request the DPP review their brief of evidence.
May – The Australian newspaper releases The Teacher’s Pet podcast about Mrs Dawson’s disappearance. It is eventually downloaded 60 million times worldwide.
July – NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller admits police ‘dropped the ball’ in the 1980s investigation.
September – Police dig up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple shared at the time of Mrs Dawson’s disappearance but don’t find remains or any items of interest.
December 5 – Chris Dawson is arrested on the Gold Coast and spends the night in a watch-house.
December 6 – Dressed in a polo shirt, shorts and thongs, the then 70-year-old is extradited to Sydney, where he’s charged with his first wife’s murder and appears in court via video link. His lawyer, Greg Walsh, says he ‘strenuously asserts his innocence’.
December 17 – Dawson is bailed to live back in his Queensland home.
August 8, 2019 – Magistrate Michael Allen warns that some reporting of the case could affect a fair trial, saying: ‘Someone would have to be living in a cave or be naive in the extreme to perhaps ignore the potential for unfairness to a person who receives this level of media scrutiny.’
February 11-13, 2020 – Magistrate Jacqueline Trad hears evidence before committing Dawson to stand trial for murder.
April 3 – Dawson formally pleads not guilty to murder, with his lawyers flagging an application for a permanent stay of proceedings.
September 25 – Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton grants Dawson only a nine-month halt to allow the ‘unrestrained and clamorous’ public commentary about his wife’s disappearance to abate before his trial.
June 11, 2021 – The Court of Criminal Appeal refuses a permanent halt to proceedings.
April 8, 2022 – The High Court backs the lower courts’ decisions not to permanently halt proceedings.
May 2 – Supreme Court Justice Robert Beech-Jones orders the trial to proceed before a judge alone following an application by Dawson.
May 9-July 11 – The trial is heard by Justice Ian Harrison, with prosecutors alleging Dawson was violent and abusive towards his wife and killed her to have an unfettered relationship with JC. Dawson’s lawyers pointed to various witnesses claiming to have seen Mrs Dawson alive and well after January 1982.
August 30 – Dawson is found guilty of murder.
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Source: Australian Associated Press