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RECOMMENDATION: The disturbing true crime podcast Australia can't stop talking about.

In early January 1982, 33-year-old mother-of-two Lynette Dawson suddenly disappeared.

At the time, her husband Chris Dawson insisted she had left on her own accord, to join a “religious group” on the north coast.

But 36 years later, no one has seen or heard from Lynette, including her two daughters Shanelle and Sherryn. It has also emerged that Chris was not the gorgeous, doting husband he might have appeared to be from the outside. Many people who knew the Dawsons were aware that Chris was, in fact, engaged in a secret sexual relationship with one of his students, Joanne Curtis.

As a physical education teacher at Cromer High, Chris Dawson was involved in a number of sexual activities with 16 and 17-year-old students. Sometimes, these encounters also included Chris’ twin brother Paul.

In 1980, when Joanne was just 16, Chris initiated a love affair with her. She started babysitting for his family, and in 1981, under the guise of trying to ‘help’ Joanne escape her tough home life, Chris moved Joanne into the family home.

Friends and family of Lynette believe Chris murdered his wife so he could be with Joanne.

In 2001 and 2003, two separate coronial inquests concluded Lynette was murdered by her husband, but Chris Dawson has never been charged for the crime.

Now, journalist Hedley Thomas has “unearthed compelling new information,” presented in The Teacher’s Pet – an investigative podcast by The Australian

Chris and Lynette Dawson on their wedding day. Image via The Australian.
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Thomas first reported on the case 17 years ago, and says it had always stuck with him as a "travesty of justice".

Over six months, he has recorded interviews with people central to the case, including Lynette's eldest daughter, Shanelle, the coroner from the second inquest, Carl Milovanovich, as well as friends, family, police, and peers of Joanne Curtis.

Now five episodes in, Thomas has revealed a previously 'lost' statement made by Chris Dawson after the disappearance of his wife, which begs several questions. He has also put together a detailed timeline of Lynette's final days, uncovered a number of claims of violence against Lynette by Chris, and shed light on the unconventional relationship between Chris and his twin brother Paul.

Thomas has also started to uncover the widespread culture of teachers engaging in sexual relationships with their students in the 1980s at Cromer High and surrounding schools, and heard students at the time describe the devastating impact these relationships had on the young women involved.

It's a gripping podcast that promises at least eight episodes and a number of key witnesses coming forward for the first time. Ultimately, however, The Teacher's Pet is a reminder of what can happen when people assume someone else will speak up: No one does, and disturbing horrors can unfold.

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