Australia

Lynette Dawson: No remains found in podcast-famous mystery police dig

Lynette Dawson holds one of her baby daughters Image copyright SUPPLIED
Image caption Lynette Dawson, a mother of two, was last seen in 1982

Australian police say they have found no remains or items of interest during a dig at the former home of a Sydney woman whose whereabouts have been a mystery since she disappeared in 1982.

Lynette Dawson, a mother of two young children, vanished without a trace.

A popular podcast on her disappearance has brought wide attention to the case.

Her husband has denied murdering her, saying she left the family, perhaps for a religious group. Two inquests found she was killed by a "known person".

The new search at the home involved a radar examination of the grounds, including the swimming pool where some believed her remains may be buried, reports say; police also drained the property's septic tank and brought in a blood-detection dog.

They used earth-drilling machinery to break up the soil between the front of the house and the pool, which was then sifted through for any traces of remains or evidence.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The search at Lynette Dawson's former home was extended by a day
Image copyright EPA
Image caption It is not the first time police have dug at the house in a Sydney suburb

Last week, police said they had begun a five-day forensic search of the couple's former home on a leafy street of multi-million-dollar properties in the suburb of Bayview, on the northern beaches of the city.

They later extended the search by a day, but found no new evidence.

A previous search in 2000 ended prematurely because of budget constraints, The Australian newspaper reports.

Previous inquests

Detectives say finding Mrs Dawson's body is not vital to potentially bringing murder charges, the BBC's Hywel Griffith in Sydney reports.

Supt Scott Cook from New South Wales Police has previously said police would pursue charges against Mr Dawson regardless of the outcome of the search.

Two previous coroners' inquests, in 2001 and 2003, recommended Mr Dawson be charged with her murder - both recommending charges be laid against a "known person" - but no prosecution has been brought because of lack of evidence.

The 2003 inquest found Mr Dawson, a former rugby league star and high-school teacher, had had sexual relationships with teenage students.

One 16-year-old girl moved in with Mr Dawson within days of his wife's disappearance. The pair later married, but have since separated.

Image copyright SUPPLIED
Image caption The Teacher's Pet podcast has revived interest in the disappearance of Lynette Dawson

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

Since May, more than 12 million people have downloaded the podcast, which is produced by The Australian.

Detectives set up a taskforce in 2015 to re-investigate the case.

In April, they sent a brief of new evidence to the state's Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether criminal charges should be laid.

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