The woman Chris Dawson is accused of sexually abusing when he was her high-school teacher has made a moving plea in court for “it to stop,” saying this is her life and she does not make things up.
The convicted murderer, now 74, is on trial in the NSW District Court charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a girl by a teacher.
Police allege he was a sports teacher in his 30s at Cromer High School in Sydney’s northern beaches when he began a relationship with the 16-year-old, known only as AB, in 1980.
In an emotional plea, AB was being grilled by defence barrister Claire Wasley about the timeline of her relationship, when she suddenly broke down.
“I suggest that’s something you just made up in the witness box now,” Ms Wasley said, in regards to the timing of Dawson’s first advance.
“I don’t make things up,” a visibly upset AB said.
“This happened to me and I’m so sick of this, having to justify everything I say.
“I know it’s just your job, but this is my life, and this happened to me, and I want something done about it”.
Asked if she wanted a break, she told the court: “I want it to end”.
Under the historical law, Dawson is only guilty if the student was aged 16 or younger and one of his students when the sexual activity began.
Ms Wasley was cross-examining AB in the judge-alone trial, arguing their relationship did not start until after she turned 17 on February 1981.
She had asked AB about earlier evidence she gave in which she said Dawson first made an advance during a driving lesson.
The court heard AB was not eligible to get her learner’s permit until November 1980.
Probing the seemingly contradicting timeline, Ms Wasley asked AB about earlier evidence in which she said she and Dawson first engaged in sexual activity months before that.
“You have given evidence that the first thing that you viewed as obviously improper and of a sexual nature was when accused (made an improper advance) in his car during driving lessons… What I’d suggest to you is that driving lessons with the accused could not have commenced until after you were eligible to have your learner’s permit,” Ms Wasley told the court.
“Well, I never suggested we had driving lessons before then,” AB responded.
“What I’d suggest to you, is that you gave evidence in this trial that they occurred in August and September 1980”.
AB said she “certainly spent a lot of time in his car, and that moment, the (first advance), happened when I was in his car with him”.
Ms Wasley also argued that AB never wrote a “sexual” message on her year 11 sports exam, which Dawson ripped up and gave her a zero mark for.
AB had told the court she wrote the note because they had already began engaging in sexual activity.
“Do you agree that what you said (in previous police interviews) is that what you wrote was cheeky and personal and there was no suggestion you wrote anything sexual,” Ms Wasley asked.
AB responded: “Fine”.
“What I suggest to you is you wrote nothing in your 11 exam that referenced the fact the accused was having sexual activity with you – do you agree?”
AB said: “No”
Ms Wasley continued to suggest she was not engaging in sexual activity with Dawson at that time, to which AB responded: “That’s not right”.
Earlier in the trial, the court heard allegations Dawson first abused AB in his parent’s bed in Maroubra while his family was away.
Crown prosecutor Emma Blizard submitted the sexual activity continued in his school office, “behind closed doors” during fitness classes and eventually his own home.
AB told the court she once engaged in sexual activity with Dawson in a pool while his twin brother was up the other end of it with another young girl.
She said he singled her out for attention after fighting to have her in his year 11 class and left her “hundreds” of love notes outside class.
In court on Thursday, AB was brought to tears and became visibly frustrated at defence barrister Claire Wasley’s repeated submissions that key events she gave evidence about were either “made up” or misremembered in terms of dates.
Ms Wasley suggested the pair did not meet until she was in year 11, not in year 10 as she had claimed in court, and did not start their sexual relationship until the following year.
She argued AB had previously given police different timelines to what she was describing in this trial during past interviews.
Several times, AB said Wasley’s suggestions were “garbage”.
As she was confronted about the timing of a topless photo of her that had been “passed around school” and somehow made its way to Dawson, she was brought to tears.
When Ms Wasley suggested that exchange happened a year after she claimed, an emotional AB told the court: “There was that photograph, and the fact I haven’t remembered it before, because it was so traumatic, does not mean it was not true”.
When it was put to her that she never engaged in sexual activity with Dawson in his office during year 11 and the only physical contact her ex-teacher gave her that year was a “hug” when she was sad about her home life, AB said that was “absolutely garbage”.
“So many things he did to me were improper – things that no other teacher ever did to me,” she said.
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.
During the sentencing, Justice Ian Harrison said Dawson would likely die in jail, as he will be eligible for parole in 2040.
Throughout the high-profile proceedings, 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.
Dawson’s lawyers have lodged an intention to appeal the guilty murder verdict.
The carnal knowledge trial continues before Judge Sarah Huggett.