Accused killer Chris Dawson has broken down in court during a desperate bail bid after he was sensationally charged with the murder of his first wife Lyn.
Mr Dawson, a former rugby league player and high school teacher, appeared via video link for a bail application in Sydney's Central Local Court today.
The court heard Mr Dawson's brother Peter and his wife would offer a $750,000 bail surety and that the accused was prepared to "enter into an agreement" in which he would put his million dollar home on the line.
Mr Dawson was extradited from the Gold Coast to Sydney on December 6 over the 1982 disappearance of Lyn Dawson, 33, and charged with murder. He will plead not guilty, according to his legal team.
The court heard that if the case went to trial it would not start until the year 2020 at the earliest, meaning Mr Dawson would be behind bars for at least 18 months without a conviction, if he is refused bail.
The 70-year-old's solicitor Greg Walsh told the court there was no evidence Mr Dawson would pose an unacceptable risk to anyone, including witnesses, if he was released on bail.
Mr Walsh said his client had a "close, loving relationship" with his family. Mr Dawson, wearing prison greens, placed his face into his hands and broke down crying as Mr Walsh told the court he was "a good father (and) husband". Mr Dawson also cried when two cards he wrote to his teen lover soon after his wife disappeared were read out in court.
"Hoping it's a happy day for you … you deserve happiness and love. All my love always, Chris," one of the cards read.
Mr Walsh described the Crown's case as weak and "entirely circumstantial".
Crown prosecutor Craig Everson said the case against Mr Dawson "was based upon a number of strong circumstances" and the conclusion that his wife was killed in January 1982 was "irresistible" based on the available evidence.
"(Ms Dawson) didn't collect her last pay check … she left contact lenses at home … her clothes were left behind, all of them," he said.
"She didn't drive. She didn't have a license. She's never left an Australian point of international departure, never been to a doctor … no tax lodged, hasn't changed her name."
The court also heard that Mr Dawson allegedly approached a man with criminal connections about how he might go about getting rid of his wife.
Both the defence and prosecution agreed that Mr Dawson should return to his home in Coolum on the Gold Coast in Queensland, where he lives with his third wife, if he is granted strict conditional bail. If granted, Mr Dawson will be required as he awaits trial to report to police daily, not approach any international point of departure and to surrender his passport. He would not be subject to a curfew.
The prosecutor suggested that Mr Dawson could still pose a flight risk under those conditions because he has an identical twin brother Paul, and could use his passport to flee the country.
Mr Dawson scoffed "You're kidding" in response to the suggestion.
The magistrate told him him it was "best you stay quiet".
"Sorry your honour, I didn't know you could hear me," Mr Dawson said.
Magistrate Williams adjourned the matter and will deliver his decision on Monday.
Mr Dawson has spent the past week behind bars, where he will remain, at least until his next court appearance.
During Mr Dawson's first appearance in Sydney Central Local Court, Mr Dawson didn't apply for bail and it was formally refused, on Thursday last week.
The father-of-three has always maintained his innocence in relation to the suspected murder of Ms Dawson, which police allege took place almost 40 years ago. He has repeatedly claimed she left their Bayview family home, in Sydney's northern beaches, and their two little girls on her own accord to be in a religious cult.
His teenage lover moved in two days later. Ms Dawson's body has never been found.
Outside the court last week, Mr Dawson's lawyer Greg Walsh told reporters he was aware of at least one other case when a mother went missing and was living a new life.
The case he was referring to was actually a member of Mr Dawson's extended family. In a bizarre twist, the former mother-in-law of his brother Peter Dawson walked out on her three children in Sydney 60 years ago.
The woman secretly moved to New Zealand and remarried and died in 2002.
There is no suggestion that Chris Dawson had anything to do with the disappearance of his brother's mother-in-law.
Mr Walsh said it showed it was possible for someone to disappear.
"It's happened before," he said.
Peter Dawson told The Daily Telegraph at the time no passport was needed for travel to New Zealand, and suggested Lyn Dawson may have also gone there. He has since suggested to 7 News that Ms Dawson may have been killed by notorious backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat.
"We don't know where Lyn is. I hope she is living happily somewhere in the world," he said.
Mr Walsh said there was evidence that Ms Dawson "was observed by a number of people" after her disappearance. "Unfortunately two of those people are deceased," he said.
"One of the witnesses who died, her daughter gave evidence at the second inquest, and she said that 'my mother told me (and) if she was here today, she'd say she saw Lyn Dawson after her disappearance'.
"Another witness also gave evidence to that effect."
Two coronial inquests, between 2001 and 2003, found that Ms Dawson was murdered by her husband, but he was not charged, with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions ruling there was insufficient evidence.
Mr Walsh last week told reporters there was also evidence of "two very important bank card transactions (made) two or three weeks after her disappearance".
He said the alleged transactions were never investigated by police and that they "should have conducted a proper investigation at the time".
"(That) would have indicated that probably she was alive," he said.
"While it seems most unusual that a lady, with the greatest respect of Lyn Dawson, would disappear and not have any contact with her children … it has happened."
Mr Dawson was arrested at his daughter's Gold Coast home on December 5 and landed in Sydney the next day for the start of what is set to become one of Australia's most sensational court cases.
Passengers on board the same flight as Mr Dawson shared images of the high-profile accused killer gazing forlornly out of a window.
His lawyer last week said his client was "naturally anxious and stressed about the situation" and that he "doesn't know" if Ms Dawson is alive.
"He seems quite a reserved sort of man to me but he's doing his best in these circumstances (and) holding up," Mr Walsh said.
In a statement, Mr Dawson's family said they expected him to be found not guilty of the murder charge.
In 2015, detectives from the Homicide Squad's Unsolved Homicide Unit established Strike Force Scriven to reinvestigate the circumstances surrounding Ms Dawson's disappearance and suspected murder.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been accessing the task force's new brief of evidence since April this year. The file included two key statements obtained "by the media" from witnesses not previously interviewed, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters last week.
The commissioner said police had "dropped the ball" during the 1980s investigation but that new evidence had helped to "tie pieces of the puzzle together".
"There was additional evidence that was identified and … that has seen the DPP make a positive decision in prosecuting an individual for the murder of Lynette Dawson," Mr Fuller said.
The major breakthrough in the cold case follows revelations in the The Teacher's Pet podcast series, which topped download charts around the world, by News Corp's The Australian.
Investigative journalist Hedley Thomas uncovered two new witness statements, which police indicated would be part of their new brief of evidence.
The Australian recently revealed key witnesses that formed part of the police case included a former northern beaches schoolgirl who kept diaries from the time she knew Ms Curtis and Mr Dawson. The unnamed woman reportedly met with detectives in recent weeks.
Ms Curtis, 54, who shares an adult child with Mr Dawson, has given new information to investigators that led directly to his arrest.
Their daughter, Kristen Dawson, told the Daily Mail, "It's a really hard time for us at the moment", but would not comment further.
It also emerged last week that another former babysitter for the Dawsons, Bev McNally, may be called to give evidence as a new witness.
Ms McNally told The Manly Daily that Mr and Ms Dawson's eldest daughter Shanelle had tried to brace herself for the charges against her father and was "coping".
"She was trying to prepare herself but nothing prepares you for this," she said.
In September, police dug up the backyard at the Bayview home the couple had shared but didn't find remains or items of interest.
During the 1970s, Mr Dawson was a professional footy player with the Newtown Jets in the NSW Rugby League, playing alongside his twin brother, Paul. He became a teacher at Cromer High School when he retired from the sport. Ms Curtis was a student at the school and when Mr Dawson noticed her in year 10 he fixed the roll to ensure she would be in his class the next year.
Soon after becoming her teacher, Mr Dawson invited Ms Curtis to be a babysitter for his two young daughters. The teenager — who came from a broken home with an abusive stepfather — accepted the offer.
Towards the end of the year, Mr Dawson and Ms Curtis had sex for the first time at his parents' house in Maroubra. It marked the start of a secret affair.
A coronial inquest was later told the couple started a sexual relationship when Ms Curtis was 16 and Mr Dawson was 32.