Chris Dawson to face trial for alleged murder of his wife after losing appeal

, Chris Dawson to face trial for alleged murder of his wife after losing appeal, The Nzuchi Times Guardian

Former Sydney teacher Chris Dawson will face trial for his wife’s alleged murder after failing to permanently halt criminal proceedings over pre-trial publicity concerns.

The 72-year-old had argued his chances for a fair trial were irreparably damaged by extensive pre-trial publicity including a podcast.

The passage of time between his wife’s alleged murder in January 1982 and his trial also rendered any trial necessarily unfair, he argued.

Dawson has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, at Bayview in Sydney’s north on or about 8 January, 1982.

The NSW supreme court in September 2020 granted a nine-month stay but denied Dawson’s bid to permanently halt proceedings.

Dawson appealed that decision to the Court of Criminal Appeal, which on Friday said permanent stays should be reserved for the “most extreme cases”.

, Chris Dawson to face trial for alleged murder of his wife after losing appeal, The Nzuchi Times Guardian

That occurred where a trial judge could do nothing during the trial to relieve the unfairness, the appeal court said in a written summary.

While it agreed the prejudice to Dawson caused by the pre-trial publicity and delay in this case was “very serious”, it could be “remedied or sufficiently ameliorated by careful directions which the judge at the trial will give to the jury”, the court said.

Chief Justice Tom Bathurst also noted a fair trial is not necessarily a perfect trial.

While fairness to the accused is one consideration, so too is the public interest of the community in bringing those charged with serious criminal offences to trial, he said.

The court’s full reasons have been suppressed in the interests of justice, to ensure Dawson can receive a fair trial.

Evidence and submissions made in the appeal are also shielded by a court order.

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