Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Teacher's Pet

I finally caught up with The Teacher's Pet recently, having heard about it a lot this year, probably first on Chat 10 Looks 3. The Teacher's Pet is a podcast by Australian journalist Hedley Thomas. It has since been downloaded 29 million times, it won the Gold Walkley Award, Australia's highest journalism award. The podcast started in May this year, and focuses on the 1982 disappearance, and likely murder, of Lyn Dawson, a nurse, wife and mother, from the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

I think most Australians would have some memories of this case over time. I can't remember when I first heard about it, but I certainly did not know then all that I do now. It's just incredible that Lyn Dawson's disappearance was never investigated at the time. Incredible that 36 years have passed since she disappeared. Incredible that two coroners have recommended that her husband be tried for murder, but nothing ever happened.

Lyn Dawson disappeared, never to be heard from or seen again in January 1982. Her marriage had been under severe strain for months and years. Her husband had moved his teenage lover into their home under the guise of her being the babysitter for the couple's two young girls. Lyn was obviously aware of their relationship. She was aware that the babysitter was a high school student at the school where her husband taught PE at the time their relationship started.  She must have felt so much betrayal, hurt and anguish.

It's hard to talk about, or even think about, The Teacher's Pet as entertainment. It's obviously investigative at its focus, rather than pure entertainment. But I'm glad I listened to it. I'm really glad that I managed to time it so that I was most of the way through the podcast, about 10 or 11 episodes in, when Chris Dawson was finally arrested and charged with murder. It gave my listening a real push, just as it was all getting a bit too samey, and I hustled through to the end. The huge success of the podcast, and the timing of the arrest, can be no coincidence. I know the police  have been looking at the case again over the past few years, but an arrest after 36 years at the same time as the most intense public interest and pressure in the case?

There are issues with the sound quality in some episodes, and it does go over the same ground over and over again. The episodes become longer and longer as it goes along. For me it could have done with a bigger pruning. Like every one else who has listened to the podcast I will be very interested in the trial when it happens. I certainly hope that Lyn can be found now and laid to rest.

60 Minutes did a story this year on Lyn Dawson.

Australian Story The Teacher's Wife

Hedley Thomas talks about making the The Teacher's Pet on The Betoota Advocate.

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