Alleged murder victim Lynette Dawson was greatly distressed before she vanished in 1982 after becoming "cowered" by her husband Chris Dawson, a court has been told.
Ms Dawson's sister Patricia Jenkins on Tuesday testified at the NSW Supreme Court trial of Chris Dawson, who is alleged to have murdered Ms Dawson in January 1982.
Dawson, 73, a former Newtown Jets rugby league player and teacher, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the mother-of-two.
The Crown claims Dawson killed his wife and disposed of her body because of his affair with one of his students, known as JC.
Dawson's legal team has argued at the trial that he might have failed his wife as a husband, but he did not kill her.
The court on Tuesday was told that Ms Dawson initially appeared to have a happy marriage, but by 1981 there were tensions in the Bayview, Sydney, home about the presence of JC.
It was told tensions eased when Dawson left the family in late 1981 but that Ms Dawson had little money and "didn't know what the future was going to be".
"She was in great distress, I could tell by her voice," Ms Jenkins said,.
She agreed Ms Dawson was intelligent, made independent decisions and stood up to people, but said "I think she was cowered" by Dawson by 1981.
Quizzed over whether Ms Dawson could have needed a break from what was going on in the household, her sister conceded it was a remote possibility.
"There's always that little bit of hope you're going to find her," she said.
Earlier, Ms Jenkins in her evidence became emotional, but declined a break in proceedings, when recalling a conversation with her sister a day or two before Christmas 1981 in which she was told that Dawson had left the family.
The witness said Ms Dawson told her she came home to find a note on the bed from Dawson that said: "Don't paint too dark a picture of me to the girls".
She said her sister told her Dawson's clothes and pillow were gone and that "she didn't know if Chris was coming home again or not", causing her to be upset.
Ms Dawson told her she later said to the girls their father had gone on holiday and gave each of them a kiss and said it was from him, Ms Jenkins told the court.
She also testified her sister told her she was worried about Dawson's health due to him being angry at her, and thought there may be a physical cause.
Ms Jenkins said she spoke of her husband's "black eyes flashing", trying to give him a hug but being pushed away, and him giving her "such a dirty look".
The last time Ms Jenkins talked to her sister was on New Year's Day 1982 when Ms Dawson told her of a "sad Christmas" and a yacht party that Dawson attended.
"I've not seen her since then, not heard from her since then," Ms Jenkins said.
Also on Tuesday, Ms Jenkins conceded listening to the The Teacher's Pet podcast and meeting with its creator Hedley Thomas.
"It was very overwhelming to listen to it," Ms Jenkins said.
On Monday, the trial heard from Julie Andrew, a friend and neighbour of the alleged victim, who testified she saw Dawson standing over his crying wife, screaming at her and shaking her shoulders in their backyard in late 1981 - weeks before she disappeared.
The judge-alone trial continues.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.