The murder trial for Christopher Dawson has heard another variation to events where the teacher and former rugby league player allegedly sought out a hitman to kill his wife Lynette in the early 1980s.
Giving evidence in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, Toni Melrose-Mikeska said Dawson’s second wife, known only as JC, confided in her about her husband after the pair broke up in 1990.
JC said that if she didn’t make it to the police, Ms Melrose-Mikeska was to tell them about an alleged visit to a pub in the early 1980s where Dawson handed over an envelope to a man a few days before Lynette disappeared.
“[JC] said, ‘I think he murdered his first wife’,” Ms Melrose-Mikeska told the court.
Ms Melrose-Mikeska was working at the Dreamworld theme park as Coo-ee The Gumnut Fairy when she met JC in 1987.
Giving evidence last month, JC said she had driven to a building on the south-side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Upon returning to the car, Dawson allegedly told JC he had gone inside to hire a hitman but had changed his mind because innocent people could be killed or hurt.
In a police statement by JC in May 1990, she said Dawson had only told her he had attempted to hire a hitman a few weeks after the car ride.
Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with JC who was a student at his former high school and the family babysitter. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Ms Melrose-Mikeska spoke of an incident in 1989 when JC had applied to play indoor cricket with her while living on the Gold Coast. At the time, she said Dawson scouted out the venue before giving her permission to play.
Dawson’s barrister Pauline David suggested that because her client was a physical education teacher, it would not have been unusual for him to check out the indoor cricket ground because of his love of sports.
Ms David said Dawson had purchased JC a cricket bat and encouraged her to play. Ms Melrose-Mikeska did not know of this, saying she had never heard JC speak positively about her husband.
She said JC had never talked to her about any physical violence from Dawson but had mentioned instances of mental abuse.
An acquaintance of JC’s, Karen Cook also gave evidence on Tuesday, saying JC had limited funds to run the house. Her husband controlled the cash, giving her “housekeeping money”, the court heard.
Ms Cook said when she asked about Mrs Dawson, JC simply said she had left her husband and two daughters without making contact afterwards.
“We thought that was very strange,” she said.
Ms Cook admitted she had changed her opinions about what had allegedly occurred, eventually expressing sympathy towards JC, after listening to The Teacher’s Pet podcast released by The Australian’s Hedley Thomas in 2018.
The hearing continues.
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