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Accused wife-killer's schoolgirl lover tells: I was Dawson's sex slave

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A former student has accused alleged murderer Chris Dawson of grooming and abusing her in high school before the pair entering into a relationship.

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Giving evidence under cross-examination on Thursday the woman, only known as JC, denied she had fallen in love with Dawson, now 73, as her high school teacher in 1980. She said his behaviour towards her was inappropriate because she was only a child at the time.

“He groomed me and abused me and insisted that I marry him,” she told the court.

Dawson’s barrister Pauline David suggested JC had been the one who first approached her client in high school to discuss her troubled home life.

Ms David also suggested JC had lied about Dawson arranging for her to be in his class because he thought she was attractive and said the teacher’s behaviour towards JC in 1980 was entirely appropriate.

“You … went out of your way to find time with Mr Dawson,” Ms David said.

“No,” JC replied.

From the witness box earlier on Thursday, JC said she moved into Dawson’s home in Bayview, Sydney, in the days after his wife Lynette’s disappearance in January 1982.

She told the court that in August that year she was unhappy about having to look after the couple’s two young children.

“I was 18. I was taking care of two children, having to learn to cook, having to learn to clean, having to learn to be the substitute housekeeper, sex slave, stepmother, babysitter, slave,” JC told the NSW Supreme Court.

JC described a car trip with Dawson to a building south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in late 1981. With JC still in her school uniform, the pair stopped at the building with a chain link fence and he went inside.

When Dawson returned, JC said he had tried to hire a hitman to kill his wife but opted not to because innocent people would be hurt.

A plan over Christmas 1981 for the pair to start a new life in Queensland was aborted when JC felt sick on the drive there and wanted to return to Sydney as she missed her family.

Wanting out of the relationship at the time, JC told the court she took a trip up to South West Rocks with her family in early January 1982. On a phone call during this trip, Dawson told JC his wife had left him, the court heard.

Returning to the Dawsons’ Bayview home, JC said no one else was there. She moved in and a few weeks later was allowed to pick some of Ms Dawson’s clothing to keep as her own.

When she asked where his wife was, JC said Dawson gave various explanations including that she had gone away with “religious people” and that she had been seen variously in Perth or the NSW Central Coast.

JC said she was sceptical of the explanations, describing them as a way to “fob her off” and shut her up, and saying Dawson never provided any concrete evidence behind his claims.

On their wedding day in January 1984, JC claims Dawson grabbed her by the throat without warning.

In December that year, the court heard the couple moved into a Gold Coast bushland property surrounded by a six-foot tall chain-wire fence. JC called it “The Compound”, saying she felt like a prisoner there.

She described how Dawson would forbid her to have social contact, cut up her credit card, and got physically violent in an argument over when she was allowed to wear a g-string.

The topic of Ms Dawson’s disappearance was brought up only once as the relationship deteriorated, the court was told.

“I said, ‘You got rid of your first wife, you could easily get rid of me’,” JC said.

After the couple separated in 1990, JC met with Ms Dawson’s brother Greg Simms and his wife Merilyn on the Central Coast. She said she decided to go to the police after realising that the stories Dawson had told the Simms about Lynette’s disappearance contradicted what he had told her.

The judge-alone trial continues.

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