The Schoolgirl, Her Teacher and His Wife by Rebecca Hazel


In 2007, while working at a local women’s refuge, lawyer Rebecca Hazel struck up a friendship with one of her colleagues whose name was Joanne Curtis. One day, while chatting over coffee, Jo told Rebecca about her past- about a missing woman, a husband who got away with everything, and a vulnerable schoolgirl at the centre of it all.

Lynette Dawson disappeared from Sydney’s Northern Beaches on 9 January 1982 and has not been heard from since. For eighteen months before she vanished, her husband Chris had been in a sexual relationship with his teenage student, Jo Curtis. Just days after Lynette went missing, Jo moved into the Dawson family home to live with Chris and his two young children. Later, they got married. Then, after almost ten years, Jo left him, taking only the little girl they had together.

It was some years before Rebecca decided she would write about what happened to Jo, and to Lynette. She spent many days with Jo, picking over what she knew and what prompted her to finally leave Chris Dawson and go to the police. No charges have ever been laid over Lynette’s disappearance, despite the recommendations of two coronial inquests, and Chris Dawson has always strenuously maintained his innocence.

The Schoolgirl, Her Teacher and His Wife is a meticulous and compelling account of one of Sydney’s most puzzling cold cases, brilliantly reconstructed from court transcripts and interviews with key players, including Lynette’s friends and family, policeman Damian Loone, who has been investigating her disappearance for nearly twenty years, and crucially, Joanne Curtis herself.

Rebecca Hazel has worked in family law; in a women and children’s refuge; helped establish and worked in the Women’s Family Law Support Service at the Family Court in Sydney; and briefly in domestic violence policy at Legal Aid. She lives in Sydney's northern beaches.

ISBN-13 9780143796336
Number of Pages:
19th February 2019
Random House Australia