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Dawson judgment ‘problematic’ but not wrong, lawyer argues

While there may have been “problematic” remarks in Chris Dawson’s original judgment, it is not enough to overturn his murder conviction.

user iconNaomi Neilson 16 May 2024 Corporate Counsel
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On the third and final day of Dawson’s, 75, appeal, Crown prosecutor Brett Hatfield acknowledged there were “problematic” remarks made in Justice Ian Harrison’s 2022 judgment, particularly around the references of Dawson’s lies representing a consciousness of guilt.

But Dawson’s version of events of what occurred when Lynette Simms disappeared was “glaringly improbable” and his conviction should remain untouched, Hatfield told the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

Sims, then 33, disappeared from their Bayview home in Sydney’s northern beaches around 8 January 1982 and has not been in touch with friends or family since, including her two daughters.


Dawson was sentenced to a maximum of 24 years in prison for murdering Simms so he could move a teenage girl into their home.

In his original trial, Dawson claimed he received a call from Sims at the Northbridge Baths, his then-workplace, and was informed she would be taking some time away from the family.

Justice Harrison said this call never occurred.

During Wednesday’s (15 May) hearing, Hatfield said the Court of Criminal Appeal could be satisfied Simms never called Dawson, and there was “only one outcome that could follow”.

Hatfield went on to say Dawson’s claims his wife was either at a commune or had been spotted alive in New Zealand were “designed to be vague, unverifiable and unlikely to attract suspicion”.

On the first day of the hearing, Belinda Rigg SC, Dawson’s senior public defender, said he was at a “significant forensic disadvantage” because the trial took place 40 years after Simms’ disappearance.

Rigg added Dawson had “loved” his wife and only moved the teenage girl into the home because he thought Simms had left.

“The nature of his interests in JC is, in our submission, related to the very reason his wife left – they’re not strangely coincidental occurrences,” Rigg told the bench.

The decision could either lead to an acquittal or a retrial.