The case is listed for a mention in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday morning, when the judge said he could deal with a bail application if the defence had been instructed to make one. A sentencing date also needs to be set.
Doherty said there was work ahead for detectives under Strike Force Scriven, “before the handing down of a sentence”.
“Through the very nature of the work in the Homicide Squad, we know that loss of a loved one is never easy to deal with, but sometimes the grief can be even harder to overcome when they can’t lay them to rest.”
Two coroners previously found Lynette to be deceased and recommended prosecution, but it was this week that Justice Ian Harrison ruled the 33-year-old was killed on or about January 8, 1982, at the hands of her husband and did not voluntarily leave her life in Bayview.
Harrison was satisfied Dawson then arranged for a family friend to take the couple’s daughters to Clovelly the following night.
“That request was made in contemplation of Mr Dawson’s plan to return home alone, having already killed his wife,” the judge said.
It was at that point, on the Crown case, that Dawson disposed of her body, having engineered himself a “window of quiet seclusion”.
Harrison found that Dawson collected his former student and the family’s teenage babysitter, known as JC, from a holiday at South West Rocks before January 12 and moved her into his Bayview home.
The judge’s findings on Tuesday could not answer the family’s second question: where is Lyn?
The evidence “does not reveal how Mr Dawson killed Lynette Dawson, it does not reveal whether he did so with the assistance of anyone else or by himself, it does not reveal where or when he did so, nor does it reveal where Lynette Dawson’s body is now,” Harrison said.
Jenkins said there was, realistically, a low chance they could find Lynette without Chris telling them.
“She could be almost anywhere. The amount of bush around Bayview, between Bayview and South West Rocks, [that is] like 450 kilometres.”
Dr Xanthe Mallett, a criminologist and forensic anthropologist, said she is “not holding out great hope” that Lynette’s body will be found.
While “you obviously never give up hope either”, she is not expecting Dawson to confess.
If Lynette’s remains are to be found, it would most likely be because somebody else knows something and comes forward, Mallett said. “Maybe their conscience will get the better of them, and now the situation’s certainly changed with the guilty conviction, they may feel compelled to share that for the family’s sake.”
She said a more remote possibility would be that the remains are found by chance, such as where building work is being undertaken or – if they are in bushland – by someone stumbling across them, although this could prove difficult as “the environment changes considerably over time”.
“The best chance is that somebody knows something and will now be comfortable to come forward,” Mallett said.
Mallett said when cases are in the media, police receive calls and information from the public. “If any of that potentially points to where Lynette’s remains are, they will follow that if it seems credible”.
If police had any information suggesting where she might be, “they would have already activated that”, she said.
Hopes were raised during a dig at the Dawsons’ Gilwinga Drive property in 2000, when a pink cardigan was unearthed, but the trial heard that forensic analysis found nothing of relevance.
“We used to think when the cardigan was found around the pool area that that was a decent chance, but clearly that’s been searched now with no luck,” Jenkins said.
Mark Leveson, the father of murdered 20-year-old Matthew Leveson, knows just how hard the fight to be reunited with a loved one’s remains can be. He and wife Faye made “many sacrifices and deals” during the decade their son was missing to achieve their goal of bringing him home.
Michael Atkins was granted immunity from further prosecution in return for leading police to his former partner’s remains in the Royal National Park.
Leveson said, in a perverse sense, Atkins’ acquittal at trial “helped”. “Had he been found guilty … we may have never got Matt back.”
Peter Rolfe, president of victims advocacy group Support After Murder, said even if it is “just a few bones in the earth”, that can bring “a certain degree of finality” to grieving families.
While some convicted killers have eventually fessed up and helped police locate their victims, Rolfe says others “get a kick out of” taking the secret to their grave, in a final assertion of control.
He wants to see “no body, no parole” rules introduced, which could remove discretion from the state parole authority (SPA) when determining whether to release killers.
A spokesman for NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said government reforms in 2017 required the SPA to consider whether an offender sentenced for murder or manslaughter had disclosed the location of their victim’s remains, which “gives those offenders incentive to disclose this information”.
Lynette’s brother Greg Simms said their journey was incomplete as Lynette was “still missing”.
“We still need to bring her home,” he said. To have that answer was “entirely up to Mr Dawson”.
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