The Teacher’s Pet: friends and family at start of long road
The day before Chris Dawson’s arrest, I had a long conversation with Lyn’s sister, Pat Jenkins.
“They can’t be much longer, surely. They’ve had it for so long,” Pat said.
The NSW Office of Public Prosecutions had been given the police brief of evidence against her former brother-in-law in April. She was trying to stay positive but had been here before and seen her hopes dashed when the department declined to prosecute him.
“It’s our last chance. Here’s hoping, hey?’’ she said.
Yesterday morning, when my phone began ringing with news an arrest had been made, it was enormous relief rather than any sense of elation or celebration that washed over me. Lyn’s steadfast friends and family are finally at the start of a road they’ve been trying to reach for more than three decades.
I spoke to Lyn’s brother, Greg Simms, and his wife, Merilyn, soon after the arrest. They were elated but it was still sinking in. As we talked, the news headlines came on their TV. “It’s on. It’s on. It’s true!’’ he said.
Lyn’s friend and neighbour Julie Andrew was trying to call me as Greg and Merilyn were talking. We connected soon afterwards.
“I can’t actually contain my emotions,” Julie said. “I feel like running through the streets and screaming at the top of my voice, it’s something I didn’t think we’d ever get to. She didn’t leave her kids, and her kids will know that.”
She spoke of “everything that everyone’s gone through for so many years, living day to day, year to year, decade to decade, and feeling no one was ever going to do the right thing and believe in Lyn”.
It has been a very long struggle for many people who knew Lyn Dawson. At last everyone who has spoken up for her can start to look forward, instead of continually reflecting on what they should have, would have, could have done. Mixed with the relief is a lingering frustration that they had to fight so hard for so long to get to this point.
There has been a broader purpose here; NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller touched on it yesterday. Many families have lost loved ones under suspicious circumstances and are looking for answers.
The world has embraced Lyn. All victims should be cared for like this.
Congratulations Hedley and The Australian for backing him.