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Arrest in Australian cold case made famous by podcast

SYDNEY

An Australian man whose life was laid bare in a popular crime mystery podcast about the disappearance of his wife nearly 40 years ago was arrested on Wednesday.

Ex-first grade rugby league player Chris Dawson, 70, is expected to be charged with the murder of his former wife Lynette, who went missing in Sydney’s northern beaches in 1982, authorities said.

The body of the mother of two has never been recovered.

Dawson denies killing his wife, and says she left home at the time of her disappearance to get some time to herself.

The cold case is the subject of popular podcast “The Teacher’s Pet”, which details a troubled marriage leading up to the disappearance and examines the shortcomings of the police response.

The podcast, by journalists from The Australian newspaper, has been heard by some 27 million people worldwide, according to the paper.

An inquest in 2003 found that Chris Dawson, a former high school teacher, had started an affair with a 16-year-old student who moved in with him within days of his wife’s disappearance.

Police have been criticised for not investigating the disappearance properly.

New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller, who recently apologised for police failings on the case in the 1980s, said detectives had revisited the disappearance three years ago and a “fresh brief” of evidence had led to the arrest.

“That information enabled New South Wales Police to get an arrest warrant for a 70-year-old man currently living in Queensland,” Fuller told reporters Wednesday.

Fuller acknowledged that media reports had contributed to police obtaining additional statements relating to the case.

“What is important to me was justice for Lynette Dawson and her family, and today is an important step forward in that,” he added.

Dawson was due to be extradited from Queensland state to New South Wales, where police said he would be charged with homicide.

(AFP)

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