Chris Dawson on way back to NSW to be charged with murder of Lynette Dawson

Chris Dawson is seen in a police car on arrival at Gold Coast airport this morning. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Chris Dawson is seen in a police car on arrival at Gold Coast airport this morning. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

THE husband of NSW mother Lynette Dawson, who disappeared almost 40 years ago, has arrived in Sydney where he will be charged with her murder.

Chris Dawson, a 70-year-old one-time rugby league player, left the Queensland watch-house, where he was being held in custody overnight, about 6.30am AEDT for the Qantas flight.

The former school teacher was sitting in the back of a car next to a police officer as he was being driven to the airport, after facing an extradition hearing yesterday.

Television footage showed Dawson walking across the tarmac with a NSW police officer to board the plane, dressed in the same t-shirt, shorts and thongs he was wearing when he was arrested.

His flight landed about 9.30am at Sydney Airport, where a federal police car and unmarked sedan were waiting on the tarmac.

Once back in NSW, detectives will begin the process of charging him with murder before he is brought before a Sydney court.

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Dawson’s arrest on the Gold Coast yesterday, following the disappearance of his wife in early 1982.

The new evidence helped police “tie pieces of the puzzle together”, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

Some of the additional material surfaced as a result of The Australian newspaper’s investigative podcast, The Teacher’s Pet.

It’s believed the evidence was provided by Dawson’s teenage lover at the time, Joanne Curtis, who moved into the family home in Sydney’s northern beaches days after Mrs Dawson disappeared – and an ex-student of the school he once taught in.

Lynette Dawson was a 33-year-old mother of two from Bayview in Sydney’s north. Picture: AAP Image/Facebook.com

Mrs Dawson was 33 when she went missing in January 1982 leaving behind two young daughters.

Her brother, Greg Simms, said he was very emotional when told of Dawson’s arrest.

“I’m the happiest man alive today and if Lynette is up there looking down, she’d be smiling at us,” he told News Corp Australia.

Mrs Dawson’s niece Renee Simms said the family has been waiting for 36 years for some sort of explanation for her aunt’s disappearance.

“Absolute relief. My dad was elated,” she told Nine Network today.

Detectives from the NSW homicide squad began re-investigating her suspected murder in 2015 and sent a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in April this year.

“There was additional evidence that was identified and that has seen the DPP make a positive decision in prosecuting an individual for the murder of Lynette Dawson,” Mr Fuller said.

“Statements from witnesses helped us tie pieces of the puzzle together.”

NSW Police and Forensic Services personnel are seen sifting through dirt as they search the former home of missing woman Lynette Dawson. Photo: AAP

Dawson, a Newtown rugby league player in the early 1970s, has long been a suspect in the case but denies any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.

Despite the fact Mrs Dawson’s body has not been found, NSW Detective Superintendent Scott Cook says investigators are confident in the strength of their case.

“There are other examples in policing history and history of the courts where people have been convicted of murder without a body,” he told reporters.

Dawson’s family said in a statement they had no doubt he’d be found innocent.

“We are disappointed at the decision of the DPP as there is clear and uncontested evidence that Lyn Dawson was alive long after she left Chris and his daughters,” brother Peter Dawson said, according to the Seven Network.

Detectives in September dug up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple shared in the early 1980s but did not find her remains or items of interest.

Mr Fuller declared “we certainly won’t give up on that search” for Mrs Dawson’s remains.