Chris Dawson's lawyer links wife's disappearance to New Zealand

Greg Walsh says some of the reporting on his client, who has been charged with murder, is "coming from an ideological perspective that he must be guilty."

The missing wife of Australian league star Chris Dawson could be in New Zealand, his lawyer says.

Dawson, subject of The Teacher's Pet podcast, was arrested on the Gold Coast on Wednesday morning over the disappearance of his wife Lynette Dawson in 1982. Her body has never been found.

The 70-year-old former Newtown Jets rugby league player and high school teacher will plead not guilty to murdering her, lawyer Greg Walsh said.

Lynette Dawson who disappeared 37 years ago, with Chris.
Lynette Dawson who disappeared 37 years ago, with Chris.

"He strenuously asserts his innocence," Walsh said.

* Teacher's Pet: Husband expected to be charged with murder
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The likelihood of Lynette leaving her family behind - which is what Dawson has always told police - is still possible, he said.

Lynette Dawson disappeared from Mona Vale on Sydney's northern beaches in 1982.

"He doesn't know where she is," he said.

"Whilst it seems most unusual that a lady, with the greatest respect, like Lyn Dawson, would disappear and not have any contact with her children ... it has happened," he said.

Walsh referred to a similar case about a woman who left her family in Australia.

Chris Dawson arrives at the police station after he is arrested.
Chris Dawson arrives at the police station after he is arrested.

The woman was the the former mother-in-law of Dawson's brother Peter, according to 

60 years after she disappeared, the woman's daughter found out her mother had moved to New Zealand, remarried and had a family.

"Her daughter did not know where her mother had gone for 60 years, it does happen," Walsh said.

Chris and Lynette Dawson on their wedding day.
Chris and Lynette Dawson on their wedding day.

Dawson briefly faced a Sydney court on Thursday afternoon where he did not apply for bail, and remained silent in a cell at the Sydney Police Centre, speaking only to thank Magistrate Robert Williams.

He will remain behind bars until at least next Friday, when his lawyer will enter what he flagged will be quite a "lengthy negotiation" for conditional release ahead of what promises to be a dramatic trial.

Dawson is faring poorly in prison, Walsh said.

"He's naturally anxious and stressed about the situation."

It is understood that Dawson's brother Peter, himself a solicitor, gave Walsh the material to begin the ex-Cromer High teacher's defence.

There has been significant public interest in the disappearance of Lynnette Dawson almost 37 years ago since The Australian newspaper launched its popular true-crime podcast The Teacher's Pet.

Walsh, who said he has never listened to podcast, claimed it could impact his client's right to a fair trial.

"One of the things that concerns me is that this man is entitled to the presumption of innocence and he should be afforded that fundamental right," he said.

- Sydney Morning Herald, with Stuff