Former Sydney teacher Chris Dawson who’s accused of murdering his wife almost four decades ago is set to face a jury trial in May.
His case was listed for arraignment in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday when internet problems meant all parties had to dial in by phone.
His solicitor Greg Walsh said at this stage his instructions were for a jury trial, but he referred to difficulties in consulting his client about the prospect of applying for a judge-alone trial.
“The accused in recent times has had two serious falls and suffered some serious physical injuries and also is suffering from depression,” Mr Walsh said.
Dawson, 72, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, Lynette Dawson, at Bayview in Sydney’s north on or about January 8, 1982.
Justice Robert Allan Hulme set the trial down for May 9, noting the estimated length was from six to eight weeks.
The situation would be re-assessed if Mr Walsh received instructions to apply for a judge-alon e trial.
In June, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed his bid to permanently stop the criminal proceedings due to pre-trial publicity concerns.
He had argued his chances for a fair trial were irreparably damaged by extensive pre-trial publicity including a podcast.
The passage of time between his wife’s alleged murder in January 1982 and his trial also rendered any trial necessarily unfair, he argued.
The NSW Supreme Court in September 2020 granted a nine-month stay but denied Dawson’s bid to permanently halt proceedings.
Dawson appealed that decision to the Court of Criminal Appeal, which said permanent stays should be reserved for the “most extreme cases”.
That occurred where a trial judge could do nothing during the trial to relieve the unfairness, the appeal court said in a written summary.