Current track




’Fragile’ Lyn trusted Dawson, court hears

Written by on May 13, 2024

Chris Dawson’s lawyer has told a court it is “not inconceivable at all” that Lyn Simms abandoned her young daughters as she trusted her killer’s “capacity as a father”.

Dawson, 75, appeared via AVL in prison greens at the NSW Supreme Court on Monday as he formally launched his bid for freedom.

In August 2022, Supreme Court judge Ian Harrison found Dawson guilty via circumstantial evidence of killing his wife Lyn to be with the family’s teenage babysitter.

He was sentenced to 24 years jail with an 18-year-old non-parole period.

Justice Harrison, in his sentencing remarks, noted that Dawson would “probably die in jail” before the expiry of his non-parole period, given the new no-body, no-parole laws which were enacted off the back of the conviction.

Dawson’s appeal hearing is being overseen by judges Julie Ward, Anthony Payne and Christine Adamson and is expected to run for three days.

On Monday, Dawson’s lawyer Belinda Rigg SC, said her client’s appeal will rest on five grounds, including the fact there was “inadequate” evidence to prove that Ms Simms was not alive after January 9, 1982.

Ms Rigg told the court that it was “not inconceivable at all” that Ms Simms would up and leave her children with Dawson and the teenage babysitter, both of whom she had previously “trusted” to take care of the kids.

“She was well aware and confident in her husband’s capacity to look after the children,” Ms Rigg told the court.

“Her circumstances were likely to have been exquisitely fragile at the time.”

Ms Simms’ family have always maintained Ms Simms would never have willingly left her daughters, who were just two and four when she went missing.

Get in touch with our reporter.

Justice Christine Adamson batted away this submission on the basis that Ms Simms had struggled to fall pregnant and had her first child seven years after getting married.

“It’s difficult to see … given the focus of Ms [Simms] getting pregnant and her joy at having the children,” she said.

Simms’ body has never been found, and she has never contacted her friends or family, including her two children.

The phone call

Dawson’s appeal is set to focus heavily on a single phone call that the former high school teacher said Lyn made to him on the afternoon of her disappearance – January 9, 1982.

The former Newtown Jets player claims Lyn called him while working as a part-time lifeguard at Northbridge Baths on Sydney’s north shore.

In the phone call, he claims she told him she needed “time away” from him and the kids.

During the 2022 judgment, Judge Harrison ruled the phone call claim a “lie”.

Ms Rigg told the court that there was a “reasonable possibility based on the evidence” that the call was made and therefore Ms Simms was alive on the afternoon of January 9, 1982.

Mr Harrison ruled “beyond reasonable doubt” that Ms Simm was not alive after Friday, January 8, 1982.

“It’s a crucial issue …. which would result in the acquittal of the applicant,” she said.

Evidence lost in time

Another ground of the appeal is the fact Dawson suffered a “significant forensic disadvantage” owing to the 40 years between his wife’s disappearance and the matter going to trial.

Ms Rigg argued on Monday that “crucial” evidence was lost during that time, which would have assisted Dawson’s case.

She pointed to the fact the trial was unable to call evidence from Sue Butlin, a family friend who said she saw Ms Simms at a roadside fruit brain after her disappearance.

Ms Butlin died in May 1988.

Ms Rigg said her sighting was “quite extraordinary” as she knew Lyn well and contributed to police at the time not charging Dawson.

“That very type of detail … has been lost because of the delay,” she said.

‘Completely unreliable’ witness could have been telling truth

Ms Rigg also argued that the account of a man who claimed he drank with Lyn Dawson at the Warners Bay Hotel following her disappearance was “reasonably possible”.

Judge Harrison dismissed the evidence by Paul Steven Cooper as “completely unreliable” at the murder trial.

Mr Cooper told the court he believed the woman was seeking to “set up” her husband for murder.

“It was a memorable event for Mr Cooper … he’s never forgotten it,” Ms Rigg said.

She argued the fact that witnesses in the trial were attempting to recall memories from 40 years ago was not Dawson’s fault and that sightings had been “wrongly dismissed” by Judge Harrison.

More Coverage

The hearing is set to continue on Tuesday.

Dawson’s legal team is also seeking an extension of time of about a month, having only filed his fifth ground of appeal on Thursday.

– with NCA Newswire