Potential problem in Dawson student sex trial

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Convicted killer and former Sydney school teacher Chris Dawson’s health will be addressed during his trial over allegations he had a sexual relationship with a teenage student in the 1980s, a court has heard.

But the NSW District Court has heard he may only be able to sit in the trial for three hours a day.

The 74-year-old has been charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a girl between the ages of 10 and 17 by a teacher and is due to face trial next week.

Dawson has denied the charge.

Police allege the former Newtown Jets rugby league player was a sports teacher in his 30s at a northern beaches school when he began a relationship with a 16-year-old student.

At a pre-trial mention of the case on Tuesday, Chris Dawson’s lawyer, Claire Wasley, told the court the matter was listed to “deal with a fitness matter in regards to Dawson that has arisen”.

Christopher Dawson will face trial in the NSW District Court next week. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye GerardChristopher Dawson will face trial in the NSW District Court next week. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

“The initial indication was that Dawson may only be fit to sit for two hours a day,” Ms Wasley said.

“(A doctor) has amended his view based on Dawson having 15 minute breaks and sitting for three hours a day”.

Ms Wasley said it was not anticipated Dawson’s fitness issue “will cause any difficulty within the two weeks allocated (for the trial) but the matter was listed to put the court on notice”.

Judge Tim Gartelmann SC said the trial judge would be best placed to hear this issue and adjourned the matter until Monday.

Last December, Dawson was sentenced to a maximum of 24 years prison with a non-parole period of 18 years after he was found guilty of murdering his wife, Lynette, in 1982.

At the time of his sentencing, Justice Ian Harrison said Dawson would likely die in jail, given he will be eligible for parole in 2040.

Throughout the high-profile trial, Dawson’s legal team argued 33-year-old Lynette walked out on the family after her trust was broken due to her husband’s behaviour.

But Justice Harrison found the only logical explanation for Lynette’s disappearance from their Bayview house was that he killed her.

During the Supreme Court trial, Dawson’s dementia diagnosis came to light.

In April, Dawson’s legal team successfully asked for the trial to be heard by a judge as opposed to a jury, given the high publicity surrounding the case.

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Dawson’s lawyers have lodged an intention to appeal his guilty verdict for murder.

His trial over the alleged relationship with the student will be be heard in front of Judge Timothy Gartelmann SC and is expected to last just two weeks.

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