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An Australian man was convicted of the cold-hearted murder of his wife on Tuesday after a true crime podcast drew attention to the case in 2018.
A judge found that Christopher Dawson, a 74-year-old former high school teacher, killed his then-wife Lynette Dawson in 1982.
At the time of his wife’s murder, Dawson was involved in an extramarital affair with their two daughters’ sixteen-year-old babysitter, aged 2 and 4 at the time, according to a 2003 court case called an investigation. She was a former student and a few days after Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, the teenager moved in with Christopher Dawson. They married after she turned 18 and separated four years later.
Hedley Thomas, an investigative reporter for the Australian newspaper, recounted the case on his podcast, “The Teacher’s Pet”.
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Australian court records show that Dawson, a former professional rugby player who became a high school teacher, had requested a trial by the judge, giving up his right to a jury, citing the podcast’s large audience.
Thomas did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon, early morning local time.
The sentence had “expired for 40 years,” he wrote in an essay published after the verdict.
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“It was a hopelessly one-sided spectator affair,” he wrote of the proceedings. “Most everyone there wanted Dawson in handcuffs before lunch.”
The podcast attracted a global audience of around 60 million and launched a new review on the case. Australian police arrested Dawson at her Queensland home in December 2018.
Dawson reported his wife missing on February 18, 1982, according to New South Wales police. But his last known contact with him came over a month earlier, when he talked to her mother on January 8. They planned to have lunch the next day. She didn’t show up.
His body was not found.
“The body of circumstantial evidence satisfies me that Lynette Dawson died, that she died around January 8, 1982, and that she did not voluntarily leave her home,” Judge Ian Harrison told court, according to the Associated Press.
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He said Dawson had lied about receiving phone calls from his wife following her disappearance and called the argument that he may have exhausted his family “ridiculous”.
Dawson faces life in prison.
Katherine Lam of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.