Lynette Dawson’s sister has choked back tears in court recalling a conversation in 1981 during which she says the alleged murder victim told her Chris Dawson had left the family and instructed her not to paint “too dark a picture” of him.
Patricia Jenkins on Tuesday gave evidence at the NSW Supreme Court trial of Chris Dawson, who is alleged to have murdered his wife Lynette in January 1982.
Dawson, 73, a former Newtown Jets rugby league player and teacher, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the mother-of-two.
The Crown claims Dawson killed Lynette and disposed of her body because of his affair with one of his students, known as JC.
Dawson’s legal team has argued at the trial that he might have failed his wife as a husband, but he did not kill her.
Ms Jenkins in her evidence became emotional, but declined a break in proceedings, when recalling a conversation with her sister a day or two before Christmas 1981 in which she was told that Dawson had left the family.
The witness said Ms Dawson told her she came home to find a note on the bed from Dawson that said: “Don’t paint too dark a picture of me to the girls”.
She said her sister told her Dawson’s clothes and pillow were gone and that “she didn’t know if Chris was coming home again or not”, causing her to be upset.
Ms Dawson told her she later said to the girls their father had gone on a short holiday and gave each of them a kiss and said it was from him, Ms Jenkins told the court.
Ms Jenkins also testified her sister told her she was worried about Dawson’s health due to him at times being angry at her, and thought there may be a physical cause.
Ms Jenkins said she spoke of her husband’s “black eyes flashing”, trying to give him a hug but being pushed away, and him giving her “such a dirty look”.
The last time Ms Jenkins talked to her sister was on New Year’s Day 1982 when Ms Dawson told her of a “sad Christmas” and a yacht party that Dawson attended.
“I’ve not seen her since then, not heard from her since then,” Ms Jenkins said.
On Monday, the trial heard from Julie Andrew, a friend and neighbour of the alleged victim, who testified she saw Dawson standing over his crying wife, screaming at her and shaking her shoulders in the backyard of their Bayview, Sydney, home in late 1981 — weeks before she disappeared.
The judge-alone trial continues.