The man behind the world number one hit Teacher’s Pet podcast, Hedley Thomas, has admitted he believes Lynette Dawson was ‘murdered in cold blood’, and that the accused did it, a court has heard.
Under cross examination by Dawson’s barrister, Pauline David, on Monday, Mr Thomas also agreed that his award-winning podcast had ‘explored’ allegations of a ‘sex ring’ operating between teachers and students in Sydney’s northern beaches in the late 1970s and early 1980s .
That was around the time when then Cromer High School PE teacher Chris Dawson moved the teenage schoolgirl JC into his marital home, before Dawson’s wife Lynette went missing, aged 33, in January 1982.
Mr Thomas said witnesses alleging a sex ring had come ‘forward of their own volition’ and agreed that he had told a 60 Minutes program that ‘Lyn Dawson was murdered almost certainly in my opinion in cold blood’.
He also agreed he had told the show that Chris Dawson was ‘a despicable person, extremely narcissistic… dangerous’ and someone who had lied to himself, his daughters and his friends.
Hit podcaster Hedley Thomas has been grilled in Chris Dawson’s murder trial about The Teacher’s Pet, his world No 1 series (above Thomas arrives at court with his wife)
Hedley told the court that he believed Lyn Dawson had been murdered ‘in cold blood’ in early 1982 and that her husband was responsible for it
Podcaster Thomas said he believed that the accused Chris Dawson (above with his lawyer Greg Walsh) was a liar, narcissistic and dangerous
Adding that this had been his personal opinion and his views had been ‘strident’, Mr Thomas conceded he probably wouldn’t express himself so strongly again.
But he denied he should have been more cautious for Dawson to get a fair trial.
‘I differ,’ he told Ms David, ‘I think before any decision is made for any prosecution often people who have been accused of very serious things, have very serious things said about them and after they are charged that ceases.’
Describing the Teacher’s Pet podcast as Mr Hedley’s ‘campaign’ to have Dawson prosecuted, Ms David accused Mr Thomas of deliberately trying to ‘incite prejudice against the accused’.
Asked if from ‘the outset… it was going to be an exercise in condemning Christopher Dawson’, Mr Thomas disagreed.
‘If I had uncovered or received information that disrupted… changed the narrative that disputed the finding by the coroners, that would have become a very significant part of the podcast,’ he said.
He also denied that the podcast’s introduction had been ‘designed to deliberately deceive your listeners’, saying that recorded quotes were spliced together just as articles were written with the most interesting quotes from different moments in an interview placed together.
Hedley Thomas is an award-winning podcaster who said The Teacher’s Pet had 60 million downloads Australia-wide
Hedley Thomas agreed that his award-winning podcast had ‘explored’ allegations of a ‘sex ring’ operating between teachers and students in Sydney’s northern beaches around the time Chris Dawson began a romance with teenage schoolgirl JC (above the pair at their wedding)
Christopher Michael Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with his babysitter and former student, known as JC. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Lynette Dawson’s 1982 disappearance was the subject of a highly popular investigative podcast series The Teacher’s Pet before her ex-husband was charged.
Thomas told the trial on Monday the podcast had both international and Australian-wide success, with about 60 million downloads nationally, although that was a fraction of the audience numbers.
Chris Dawson’s defense to the murder charge includes that Lyn left her marriage of her own accord and abandoned her two young daughters, then aged four and two.
The crown’s witnesses have attempted to paint Dawson as a violent, controlling and abusive husband, with testimony emerging that Mrs Dawson had been seen variously with a black eye, and bruises around her throat and on her arms and thigh.
Witnesses have said they saw him shove his wife’s face into the dirt, swing her into a doorframe, and demean her with insults such as ‘fatso’.
Dawson’s legal team has argued the witnesses’ testimony has been contaminated because they had talked about the case with each other and had listened to The Teacher’s Pet podcast about the mystery surrounding Mrs Dawson, arguing it was broadcast with an assumption that her husband was guilty.
They contend that because these events happened four decades ago and memories have faded over time, the testimony given now is not an accurate portrayal of what happened.
They have also argued that police failed to probably investigate the possibility that Lyn Dawson is still alive and were tunnel-visioned about Chris Dawson’s alleged guilt.
Dawson claims JC’s claims are lies spurred by a bitter custody battle which occurred after their 1990 break-up.