What is it?
The Teacher’s Pet is a podcast created by Hedley Thomas, Chief Correspondent for one of the country’s biggest newspapers, The Australian. The series attempts to uncover the truth about the disappearance of Sydney-based mother Lyn Dawson, a 33-year-old housewife and childcare worker who vanished from the home she shared with her two children and husband, rugby league star-turned-teacher, Chris Dawson, 36 years ago.
At the time, her disappearance wasn’t treated as suspicious, as her husband told friends and family that Lyn had decided to join a religious cult after a rough patch in their marriage. But now the people who were closest to Lyn are convinced that Chris killed her all those years ago, and they’re determined to see him face justice.
Tell us more…
Although two separate coroners ruled that Lyn had been murdered by her husband, Chris has never been charged. This is despite overwhelming circumstantial evidence against him: friends and family members claim Chris abused Lyn and, at the time she went missing, he was having an affair with Joanne Curtis, their teenage babysitter who also attended the high school Chris worked at. In fact, Chris moved Joanne into their house for a while in 1981, whilst Lyn still lived there. And just a couple of days after Lyn disappeared, Chris moved Joanne back into their home – and into their marital bed – permanently, where she acted as a new mum to Lyn and Chris’s two little girls.
Chris has always maintained that Lyn is alive, claiming she often called him in the first year after her disappearance. But she didn’t call her mother, who she was close with, or ask to speak to her children, who she adored. "I just want justice, and I want her little girls to know she didn't leave them," as one of Lyn’s friends says during the podcast.
Lyn’s body has never been found, and no one has seen her since 1982.
What’s happening now?
The success of the podcast and the fact that it’s recorded week by week, rather than the series being pre-recorded in its entirety, means new developments and discoveries are being made in each episode. Since the start of The Teacher’s Pet, many former students of Cromer High in New South Wales, where Chris Dawson taught, have revealed that they were victims of a child sex ring, where male and female teachers would groom and have sex with their students.
The podcast has also highlighted the inadequacy of the NSW police department, shining a light on their lacklustre attempt to solve this case – police files went missing, friends and family were barely interviewed, and crucial lies in the case weren’t checked for accuracy.
The case is piquing the interest of everyone who listens, from residents to newsreaders to the Australian government. And now, it looks like there could be justice for Lyn – something her family have been denied for over thirty years. The podcast was originally only supposed to be eight episodes long, but with the wealth of new evidence being brought forward, Hedley Thomas is currently on episode 12 – and it shows no sign of slowing just yet.
Will I like it?
If you’re a true crime buff, then yes – you’re going to love it. At times it can be quite slow and a little repetitive, but that’s the best way to absorb the wealth of information being thrown at you. It’s a little Serial-esque in its delivery, but what makes it different from most other true crime podcasts is that now the story is playing out week by week, we can see the important developments that are being made, as more people continue to come forward and more information is made public.
Pressure is mounting for Chris Dawson to face justice – will this podcast be enough to bring him to trial?