Chris Dawson is soon to be released from a western Sydney prison almost two weeks after being charged with the murder of his wife Lyn Dawson.
- The magistrate said Chris Dawson does not pose an unacceptable risk to the community
- His brother has mortgaged his house to help pay a $1.5 million surety to meet bail
- Mr Dawson’s lawyer said he has received threats in prison which are now being investigated by police
The former rugby league player thanked Magistrate Robert Williams when he was granted bail at Central Local Court today.
Magistrate Williams said he was satisfied the 70-year-old would not pose an unacceptable risk to the community, considering he has no previous criminal history.
“While murder is the most serious offence, refusal of bail is not to be deemed a punishment … the applicant is not to be punished before a conviction,” he said.
Outside court, Mr Dawson’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, welcomed the decision, saying there was no evidence his client was a flight risk.
“He appeared at two coronial inquests and he has never tried to flee the country before — this is the right decision,” Mr Walsh said.
“He has had some serious threats in prison, first time in custody, they are now being investigated by the police.”
On Friday, prosecutor Craig Everson told the court the case was based on circumstantial evidence and strong witness accounts.
He referred to a marriage counselling session the couple attended during which Mr Dawson allegedly threatened his wife, telling her “if this doesn’t work, I’ll get rid of you”.
Mr Everson said Mr Dawson allegedly contacted a man “with criminal connections” about a plan to get rid of Ms Dawson.
But on Friday, Mr Walsh said the Crown case was “entirely circumstantial” and “far from strong”.
He claimed police at the time failed to investigate a number of sightings of Ms Dawson years after she disappeared.
Concerns podcast could jeopardise fair trial
Mr Dawson, a former high school teacher, denies killing Ms Dawson, who was last seen at the couple’s Bayview home on the northern beaches 37 years ago.
As part of his bail conditions, Mr Dawson will have to reside with his wife Susan at their house in Coolum, report to police daily, surrender his passport, and not go anywhere near an airport.
His older brother has mortgaged his home in Dural in Sydney’s north-west, while Mr Dawson has also put up his property on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to meet a $1.5 million surety.
Mr Dawson was arrested at a relative’s house on the Gold Coast before being extradited to Sydney, where he was formally charged with murder by NSW homicide detectives almost a fortnight ago.
The body of his wife, a former nurse, has never been found.
The cold case investigation is largely based on witness accounts, some of which featured in the popular podcast, The Teacher’s Pet.
The ABC understands both the defence and the prosecution are concerned the airing of witness accounts could jeopardise the case and Mr Dawson’s right to a fair trial.
Mr Dawson is due to face court again in February.