The award-winning Teacher’s Pet podcaster has been accused of ‘seducing’ witnesses in the Chris Dawson murder trial with the prospect of a TV series involving Hollywood stars Hugh Jackman and Joel Edgerton.
Hedley Thomas spent Tuesday morning under cross examination by the accused’s barrister Pauline David during which it was suggested Joel Edgerton might make a Teacher’s Pet TV series and Hugh Jackman might star in it.
Ms David suggested to Mr Thomas that in talking to future trial witnesses he was ‘trying to poison their minds against Christopher Dawson’ which he denied, saying the people on his podcast were ‘intelligent people with their own independent minds’.
In a telephone conversation played in court between Mr Thomas and Pat Jenkins, the sister of the alleged murder victim Lynette Dawson, the podcaster mentions US film and TV producer Jason Blum and Australian actor/producer Joel Edgerton.
Ms David quoted another conversation with Ms Jenkins in which he told Ms Jenkins he had spoken with Hugh Jackman.
The Australian-born star would possibly play PS, the Coles ‘trolley boy’ who told the trial Chris Dawson had threatened him after learning he was romantically interested in the schoolgirl babysitter Dawson replaced Lyn Dawson with, JC.
Lynette Dawson’s 1982 disappearance was the subject of Mr Hedley’s highly popular investigative podcast series before Chris Dawson was charged with her alleged murder in 2018.
Award-winning podcaster Hedley Thomas was grilled for a second day by Chris Dawson’s layer, who accused him of ‘poisoning’ witnesses and ‘seducing’ them with promises of Hollywood stars playing them in a TV series
The trial heard Mr Thomas had spoken with Hugh Jackman (above with wife Deborra-Lee Furness), who could be cast in the role of the teenage trolley boy who was threatened by the accused after becoming romantically interested in the schoolgirl babysitter, JC
Mr Thomas had discussed with the sister of the alleged murder victim that Joel Edgerton, the Australian-born actor/director, could make a series of film with US film/TV producer Jason Blum
‘You flattered them, seduced them … induced them with promise of walking the red carpet?’ Ms David said, to which Mr Thomas replied, ‘that’s incorrect’, adding later he had used the film star talk ‘as banter’.
Asked by Justice Ian Harrison if he had used their potential depiction in a movie as ‘an enticement to potential witnesses’ to lure them over to his ‘point of view that Christopher Dawson was guilty of murder’, Mr Thomas said , ‘No, I don’t have power to do that’.
The court heard that a police officer overseeing a 1998 investigation into Lynette Dawson’s 1982 disappearance, Inspector Paul Hulme, had described the accused and his twin brother Paul Dawson as ‘good looking guys, the women liked them’.
Mr Hulme had said the twin had used their attractiveness ‘to their advantage’, and that in the Lyn Dawson inquiry he had no other suspect than Chris Dawson.
He also said that the alleged victim ‘didn’t run into foul play catching a bus to wherever. I’m a firm believer she never left home’
Ms David asked Mr Thomas about potentially polluting the mind of a witness by mentioning a story he’d been told about the accused being suspended while at high school ‘for having sex … with a North Sydney Girls High School’ student.
He replied: ‘That was never broadcast. It was not published in the podcast’.
The court heard on Tuesday that a police inspector who oversaw an investigation into Lyn’s (above) disappearance believed she ‘didn’t meet with foul play on a bus’, and in fact ‘had never left the house’.
A policeman who knew the twins Chris and Paul Dawson described them as ‘good looking guys, the women liked them’
He said he had included in the podcast ‘an entire section’ about Chris Dawson’s possible legal defence at trial, given that their subject had declined to be interviewed on the podcast.
‘I got a senior judge to prepare a defence of Chris Dawson, an entire section – an exposition from a lawyer who had defended Ivan Milat at a murder trial – explaining where the deficiencies were in the … case, one by one,’ he said.
Ms David attacked Mr Thomas about a a comment he’d made to Pat Jenkins when discussing a TV miniseries on her sister’s life, accusing the journalist of saying ‘one of the most inhuman things’ about her client.
In the telephone call, Mr Thomas had said although he trusted the TV show would be ‘tasteful’ that in the fictionalised dramatisation, hypothetically a writer might depict Dawson as a person who was ‘as a child cruel to animals’.
‘You treated Christopher Dawson with absolute inhumanity by your comments. It was completely an inhumane thing to do to someone,’ Ms David said.
Mr Thomas replied that he had during a conversation ‘not a broadcast’ tried to explain ‘how script writers can change things. It was just something I plucked out of the air’.
Sandra Casey, whose husband played at the Newtown Jets with the Dawson twins, was watching Antiques Roadshow in 2010 when she saw this woman and thought ‘that is Lyn Dawson’
Sandra Casey’s handwritten statement about the woman she saw on Antiques Roadshow 18 years after Lynette Dawson’s disappearance
On Monday, the trial heard that Mr Thomas believes Lynette Dawson was ‘murdered in cold blood’, and that the accused did it.
Mr Thomas agreed that his award-winning podcast had ‘explored’ allegations of a ‘sex ring’ operating between teachers and students in Sydney’s northern beaches in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
That was around the time when then Cromer High School PE teacher Chris Dawson moved the teenage schoolgirl JC into his marital home, before Dawson’s wife Lynette went missing, aged 33, in January 1982.
Mr Thomas said witnesses alleging a sex ring had come ‘forward of their own volition’ and agreed that he had told a 60 Minutes program that ‘Lyn Dawson was murdered almost certainly in my opinion in cold blood’.
He also agreed he had told the show that Chris Dawson was ‘a despicable person, extremely narcissistic … dangerous’ and someone who had lied to himself, his daughters and his friends.
Christopher Michael Dawson, 73, is accused of murdering his wife and disposing of her body in January 1982 so he could have an unfettered relationship with his babysitter and former student, known as JC. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Hedley told the court that he believed Lyn Dawson had been murdered ‘in cold blood’ in early 1982 and that her husband was responsible for it
Podcaster Thomas said he believed that the accused Chris Dawson (above with his lawyer Greg Walsh) was a liar, narcissistic and dangerous
Hedley Thomas is an award-winning podcaster who said The Teacher’s Pet had 60 million downloads Australia-wide
Hedley Thomas agreed that his award-winning podcast had ‘explored’ allegations of a ‘sex ring’ operating between teachers and students in Sydney’s northern beaches around the time Chris Dawson began a romance with teenage schoolgirl JC (above the pair at their wedding)
Thomas told the trial on Monday the podcast had both international and Australia-wide success, with about 60 million downloads nationally, although that was a fraction of the audience numbers.
The court heard on Monday that Chris Dawson’s defence counsel would argue The Teacher’s Pet had given a misleading, unfair and biased view on the case which had a potential and significant impact on the reliability and credibility of witnesses evidence.
Chris Dawson’s defence to the murder charge includes that Lyn left her marriage of her own accord and abandoned her two young daughters, then aged four and two.
The crown’s witnesses have attempted to paint Dawson as a violent, controlling and abusive husband, with testimony emerging that Mrs Dawson had been seen variously with a black eye, and bruises around her throat and on her arms and thigh.
Witnesses have said they saw him shove his wife’s face into the dirt, swing her into a doorframe, and demean her with insults such as ‘fatso’.
Dawson claims JC’s allegations are lies spurred by a bitter custody battle which occurred after their 1990 break-up.