Missing Persons - Patricia Dawson
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SA Police 'Cold Case' team to disband
After examining almost 120 unsolved murder and missing persons cases over the past six years, the Cold Case
team within the Major Crime Investigation Section is to be wound up.
Senior police have revealed that once the remaining handful of reviews are completed - including the Corinna
Marr review announced on Friday - the six detective positions would be transferred to other areas of the department.
Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Tony Harrison said the review team, established in early 2003 to examine all
pre-2000 murder and missing persons cases, had completed its task and the files - some dating back to the early
1950s - were now up to date.
"There was a genuine need to both ensure the files were in good order and utilise new DNA legislation to see
if it could be used successfully in any of the outstanding cases," he said. "That didn't produce any instant
successes, but in many of the cases there are now samples on the database and we may get matches in future."
The move has concerned many senior detectives, who are disappointed that it will effectively reduce Major Crime
from 31 to 25 detectives. But they understood the review team had completed its task and the department had other
Major Crime's officer-in-charge, Detective Superintendent John Venditto, said the review team examined almost
80 unsolved murder cases and about 40 missing persons cases.
The preliminary investigations had resulted in 12 full investigations that resulted in a breakthrough in just
one case - the murder of Patricia Dawson, 32, in 1972. Her former husband was charged with her murder in 2006,
but the charge was withdrawn several months later because of a lack of evidence.
As part of the investigations, 167 people had their DNA taken by police, exhibits from 16 cases were sent to
Forensics SA for re-examination and five excavations were conducted for suspected gravesites in country and
In some cases, particularly those that occurred before 1975, the suspects and many witnesses had died.
"When we started this process, I didn't think we would get many arrests on the basis that the initial
investigation, subject to advances in technology, would be complete," Det-Supt Venditto said.
"This was because the preliminary dozen or so files I looked at, they were complete, but there were
opportunities to improve the file referencing process. There was no smoking gun in any of them."
Mr Harrison said while it was disappointing for police and the relatives of the victims, it was
reassuring there were no obvious opportunities to arrest offenders because of the "first response
that had been put in place over many years".
"That's not to say after this review the case is closed. They are always active and will be vigorously
pursued if any new information comes to light," he said.
The disbanding of the Cold Case team will have no effect on current unsolved murder cases, with Major
Crime's case management plan ensuring there are six-monthly and 12-monthly reviews of ongoing
The largest Cold Case review conducted was that of the Family murders, which has so far taken almost
18 months and used resources beyond the review team.
It has led to detectives travelling interstate extensively and taking DNA samples from several suspects.
It also has seen the largest number of exhibits submitted for forensic testing. In many of the cases reviewed,
detectives had already identified a suspect, but there was not enough evidence to bring them before the courts,
even after the renewed investigations.
"While an arrest may be feasible, it is the reasonable prospect of conviction we have to be mindful of,"
Mr Harrison said.
"In those cases it may be just something little that one day tips the balance and if that occurs, the cases are
at a high standard for prosecution. That is what we have achieved with these reviews."
He said that in some cases, breakthroughs might come in the future because of the work done as part of the
review process, particularly where DNA had been uncovered.
Sunday Mail (9-8-2009)
DPP asked to explain dropped murder charges
Police have formally asked Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, to explain why he dropped the
charges in three high-profile murder cases.
Acting Police Commissioner John White wrote to Mr Pallaras on Thursday as a result of growing angst within police
ranks at the decisions.
The murder charges were all dropped within a four-week period, despite protests from Major Crime Investigation
Section detectives and the victims' families.
One prominent legal figure said this week the withdrawal of murder charges in three cases within such a short
timeframe was "quite unusual".
"One murder case is relatively rare, but three on the trot is unprecedented as far as I can recall," he said.
When the charges were dropped - between late August and mid-September - DPP prosecutors or Mr Pallaras told the
investigating detectives and the victim's relatives in each case there was not enough evidence to successfully
prosecute those charged.
However, many senior detectives have told the Sunday Mail they believed there was sufficient evidence to prosecute
and they feared Mr Pallaras had adopted a "more cautious" attitude to prosecuting circumstantial cases because of
resource problems within his office.
But Mr Pallaras has denied the decisions were "in any way" influenced by resource issues, saying they were made
after carefully assessing the evidence in each case.
While he did not want to discuss the cases in detail for fear of jeopardising any future proceedings, he said
the decisions were made after extensive consultation with senior lawyers within the DPP.
"I have no qualms about any of these three decisions," he said on Friday. "I have consulted my colleagues about
them, formed my own opinion about the state of the evidence."
Mr Pallaras, who confirmed he had received Mr White's letter, said he was aware his decisions may have upset
police, but he did not resile from his actions.
He said in each of the three cases he decided not to proceed with a trial because he did not believe there
was a reasonable expectation of a conviction, based on the evidence.
"I am very conscious that these decisions upset police officers," he said.
"I am aware of the investment in time, money and effort they make. I do not lightly say to a police officer,
'There is no case here'.
"But when I am asked to consider the most serious offence on the criminal calendar, whether I should put a
member of the community on trial for that and then presented with evidence that offers at least two conclusions,
I will not do that."
The three cases are:
THE execution murder of Hallett Cove man Michael Remigio, 30, in Manila. His wife, Jennifer Remigio, was
charged with conspiring to murder him.
THE murder of missing Ingle Farm woman Patricia Dawson, 32. Her husband, Peter Alwyn Dawson, 63, was
charged with her murder.
THE drug-related murder of Ethelton man Eric Lynch, 45. Two men were jointly charged with his murder.
In each of the cases, detectives laid charges after complex and protracted inquiries. In the Dawson case,
Mr Pallaras withdrew the charge despite senior magistrate Bill Ackland finding there was enough evidence
to commit Mr Dawson for trial in the Supreme Court.
Mr Pallaras said his decision and Mr Ackland's could not be compared.
"He looks to see if there is any case taken at its highest which would justify proceeding," he said.
"I have to look and see what the case is and on the evidence whether there is a reasonable prospect of
conviction. The test, the criteria, we use are different."
Senior detectives say although investigations will continue in the three cases, it is likely two will
remain unsolved because there is little chance of further evidence being uncovered. "By their very nature,
these cases are only ever going to be circumstantial," one experienced detective said.
"In such cases, it is highly unlikely any more evidence will be gathered, even if more time is spent on it."
Several detectives said the stance they believe the DPP is adopting means police will need to reassess tactics
in numerous current investigations. Many of these investigations rely on circumstantial evidence with little
chance of direct evidence implicating the suspect ever being obtained.
"The reality is that if the benchmark for evidence in cases such as this has been increased by the DPP, then
there is little chance some murder cases will ever result in a prosecution," one detective said.
Mr Pallaras said the same test was always applied in prosecutorial decisions and "to suggest I have lifted
the bar is false".
"If I am going to err at all, I should err on the side of conservatism, rather than place people on trial for
the most serious offence on the criminal calendar when I am not satisfied there are reasonable prospects of
a conviction," he said. "Others may be; I am not."
Relatives of the three victims have been devastated by the events, having been kept up to date with the
progress of the investigations leading to the arrests.
Catherine Remigio, sister of murder victim Michael Remigio, said she could not understand what had occurred.
"As I understand it, Jennifer would not have been arrested if there was not thought to be enough evidence
to justify it," she said. "If the police didn't think there was enough evidence, they would not have arrested her.
"The jury should be the ones deciding the case. That's how I see it."
Mr Pallaras declined to discuss the contents of the letter from Mr White, other than to say it "concerns
this issue" (the three murder charges) and he planned to speak with him at length tomorrow.
Senior police were yesterday reluctant to comment at length on the DPP's actions and declined to release
a copy of Mr White's letter to Mr Pallaras.
"We will be examining the files within SAPOL and liaising with the DPP," a spokesperson for Assistant
Commissioner (Crime) Madeleine Glynn said.
Husband to stand trial for 34-year-old murder
A Queensland pensioner has been committed to stand trial in the South Australian Supreme Court for the murder of his wife
34 years ago.
Patricia Dawson went missing from her Ingle Farm home in Adelaide's north-east in April 1972.
In court today, prosecutors described 63-year-old Peter Alwyn Dawson of Gympie North as a callous and insensitive man.
But Dawson's lawyer asked the magistrate to find her client had no case to answer.
She said the prosecution's case was weak and based mostly on malicious gossip and heresay.
Prosecutor John Wells admitted that his case was old, flawed and circumstantial.
But he said it was built on the many lies and contradictions Dawson had told.
The court heard that two days after Mrs Dawson went missing, Peter Dawson had asked a neighbour to tell her two
children that she was not coming back.
Mr Wells said weeks later Dawson's mistress had moved in, under the guise of being a housekeeper.
33 Years On Husband Arrested For Murder
The former husband of a woman missing for 33 years is expected
to arrive in Adelaide today after being arrested in
Queensland and charged with her murder.
SA Major Crime detectives were yesterday in the Queensland country
town of Gympie, where Peter Dawson was charged with the 1972 murder of
Patricia Dawson and an application was made for his extradition.
Ms Dawson's brother, Brian Fletcher, yesterday said the family was "more than pleased".
His sister Marie Brazil, arrived from the United Kingdom
this week to spend Christmas with the family.
"We knew it (an arrest) would happen. We just wondered how long," Mr Fletcher said as he
praised the work of detectives.
Ms Dawson's body has never been found.
She was last deen on April, 11, 1972, when she vanished from the couple's
Halidon Ave house at Ingle Farm. She was 32.
She disappeared about 11:15pm that night. Her two children,
Susan and Geoff, then aged three and two, were asleep.
They told the Advertiser last year they had no recollection of their mother
but were hoping for resolution in the case.
Police reports at the time said there was no evidence of foul play and Ms Dawson's
disappearance was "domestic related".
In 1979 new evidence led to Ms Dawson's disappearance been declared a major crime.
Last year, police received further information and SA detectives
travelled to Queensland and interviewed Mr Dawson and his present wife, Helen.
Victorian police are continuing investigations in relation to the
murder of Ms Dawson's stepdaughter Barbara, 20, whose naked body was found
dumped in a creek at Altona on November 1, 1980.
Major crime detectives yesterday confirmed they
were continuing to liaise with their Victorian counterparts.
The Dawson case is the first resulting in an arrest
since the police Cold Case Review Team was established in July, 2003.
It has been one of 44 cases under review by the Major Crime Investigation Branch.
Mr Fletcher said he would be attending Adelaide
Magistrates Court today "just so I can look at the
gentleman in question".
Adelaide Advertiser (14-12-2005)
Police to extradite 1972 murder accused
South Australian Police have successfully applied for the extradition of a
62-year-old man charged with a 1972 murder.
Peter Allwyn Dawson appeared in the Gympie Magistrates Court today charged
with murdering Patricia Dawson in South Australia.
The 20-year-old's body has never been found.
Mr Dawson has been remanded in custody and will be flown to Adelaide in the
company of South Australian detectives, to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday.
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