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Teacher’s Pet podcast: Australian school teacher to face trial for murder over wife’s disappearance

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An Australian school teacher will face trial for the murder of his wife, 38 years after she mysteriously disappeared, in a case that has been the subject of a popular crime podcast.

Chris Dawson, 67, was arrested in 2018 for the murder of Lynette Dawson and released on bail. He has pleaded not guilty and repeatedly denied the killing.

Her disappearance from their Sydney home in 1982 was the subject of the Teacher’s Pet podcast, produced by the Australian newspaper in 2018.

His lawyers tried to get the case thrown out of court, arguing that the podcast prejudiced the case.

Lynette Dawson vanished from her home in Sydney’s northern beaches in 1982.

A judge called the media and public commentary around the case “egregious” and said the trial would not take place until 2021 because of the “unrestrained and uncensored” discussion.

New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said that she “was left in no doubt that the adverse publicity in this case or, more accurately, the unrestrained and uncensored public commentary about Lynette Dawson’s suspected murder, is the most egregious example of media interference with a criminal trial process which this court has had to consider in deciding whether to take the extraordinary step of permanently staying a criminal prosecution.”

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Justice Fullerton said that delaying the trial until next year was the only way of ensuring that it goes ahead fairly.

Ms Dawson, a mother of two, disappeared aged 33. Mr Dawson has always maintained that she left him, and could have moved away to join a religious movement.

Lynette Dawson went missing in January 1982 (NSW Police)

A 2003 inquest heard that he had sexual relations with teenagers during his marriage and slept with the family’s babysitter around the time of his wife’s disappearance.

After the podcast came out in December 2018, police arrested and charged Mr Dawson. He posted bail of A$1.5 million (£820,000).

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New South Wales