Australia

Teacher's Pet podcast: Chris Dawson pleads not guilty to murder

Lynette Dawson holds one of her baby daughters Image copyright SUPPLIED
Image caption Lynette Dawson, a mother of two, was 33 when she disappeared

An Australian man accused of killing his wife in a case that has been the subject of a popular crime podcast has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Chris Dawson, 70, has been on bail since he was arrested in December over Lynette Dawson's 1982 disappearance.

He has consistently denied killing Mrs Dawson, maintaining she had abandoned him and their two children - possibly to join a religious group.

A 2018 podcast, The Teacher's Pet, has brought global attention to the case.

Police arrested the former high school teacher last December, following renewed investigations into Mrs Dawson's disappearance.

Police have found no trace of Mrs Dawson since she vanished from the couple's Sydney home almost four decades ago, aged 33.

The podcast series, produced by The Australian newspaper, has led to the case gaining prominence in Australia and internationally.

On Thursday, a judge said the trial was almost in "almost uncharted waters" due to procedural and legal considerations prompted by the podcast.

Mr Dawson's lawyer, Greg Walsh, said the podcast could pose a "risk of contamination" to a fair trial, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In December, Mr Dawson was extradited from his home in Queensland to New South Wales, where he posted a A$1.5m (£820,000; $1m) bond for bail.

An inquest in 2003 heard that he had been having an affair with the family's teenage babysitter at the time of his wife's disappearance.

The podcast highlighted the bungled handling of Mrs Dawson's case by police in the early years after her disappearance, prompting a recent apology from the state's police commissioner.

Mr Dawson's next court hearing will take place in August.

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