Having already been told he can expect to die in jail, wife killer Chris Dawson has had a year piled onto his already lengthy jail term after he groomed and engaged in unlawful sexual acts with a vulnerable 16-year-old student.
Remorseless and silent, Dawson hung his head in his hands as he watched on from Long Bay Jail as he learnt his fate in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Friday afternoon.
Earlier this year the former teacher and Newtown Jets star forward was convicted of one count of carnal knowledge after a judge found he engaged in sexual activities with one of his 16-year-old students at a Sydney high school in 1980.
And in what shapes as the final chapter in one of Australia’s most infamous cases, Dawson was on Friday sentenced by Judge Sarah Huggett to three years in jail.
Effectively, he had one year added onto his earliest possible release.
After he was last year found guilty of murdering his wife Lynette, Dawson was given a maximum of 24 years in jail, and his earliest possible release on parole was set at August 30, 2040.
On Friday, Judge Huggett pushed the expiration of his non-parole period back until August 2041 – when he will be 93.
The court was told that he elected not to give evidence during the sentence proceedings and continued to deny the offence.
“There is no evidence that would permit me to find on balance that he is either contrite or remorseful,” Judge Huggett said.
The only time the court heard his voice was when he was brought on screen.
“I can hear you, yes I can,” he said.
Judge Huggett in June found Dawson guilty of engaging in sexual acts with a then 16-year-old student, who can only be known as AB, when she was in his year 11 PE class.
He had pleaded not guilty and argued that their first sexual contact did not occur until the following year – when she was in year 12.
However, Judge Huggett accepted AB’s testimony that she was “groomed” by Dawson in the playground before they first engaged in sexual activity in his parents’ Maroubra home in the latter half of 1980.
AB said in her testimony to the court: “I was told to keep it a secret.”
“The offender did not use threatening words or conduct either to commit the offence or to secure the victim’s consent and silence,” Judge Huggett said.
She added: “There was, however, a degree of manipulation and exploitation.”
Dawson has lodged a notice of intention to appeal his conviction.
The court was previously told that AB had a tumultuous home life marked by abuse and she at one point saw Dawson as a mentor and trusted confidant.
She told the court that Dawson had told her that he deliberately altered the roll so that she would be in his class in year 11.
AB testified that Dawson left “hundreds” of love notes in her school bag and gave her cards on special occasions.
One card, which was dated Christmas 1980, said “once or twice every minute” and was signed off as “God”.
AB told the court that the reference to “God” was an attempt to disguise himself because he knew she was 16 years old.
“The offence was committed in circumstances where the offender had engaged in conduct in the lead-up to committing the offence that could be characterised as grooming the victim,” Judge Huggett said.
“This occurred in a context in which the offender knew the victim was experiencing trouble in her home life and that she was somewhat vulnerable.”
In another card dated 1981, Dawson wrote: “To the most beautiful girl in the world on her 17th birthday, knowing we will share all the birthdays to follow, all my love.”
The court was also read an excerpt from her year 11 report card in which Dawson wrote that she was a “pleasure to teach”.
“(AB) worked well in class and made valuable contributions in discussions. A very pleasant personality, a pleasure to teach,” Dawson wrote on the report card.
During her evidence, AB claimed “pleasure to teach” was a double entendre, which referred to their sexual activities
A man who worked at the same supermarket as AB as a teenager told the court that he was threatened by Dawson in a darkened parking lot in 1980.
The man told the court that at the time, he harboured a crush on her and asked her out on several occasions.
“The offender elected to engage in a sexual relationship with the victim when she was his student, and he was her teacher and in circumstances where I consider his moral culpability to be high,” Judge Huggett noted.
She also added that there “was no penalty other than imprisonment” that was appropriate.