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Elizabeth Dixon murder accused Rodney Lawrence seeks bail

Bail push for Dixon murder accused Police examine a car at the murder scene in April 1982 and inset, Elizabeth “Betty” Dixon. Main pic: Allan Jolly.
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Elizabeth Dixon

Det Sgt Frank Tracey in 1982 with a knife similar to one missing from Ms Dixon’s flat and her car key wallet, which is similar to a wallet which was missing.

TweetFacebookBetty Dixon’s storyA man who denies murdering a woman more than three decades ago has consistently maintained his dead father-in-law was the culprit, a Sydney judge had been told.

Rodney Lawrence, 66, appeared via video link in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday when his lawyer Chris Bruce applied for bail, saying “this is not a strong crown case”.

Lawrence is charged with the stabbing murder of Elizabeth Dixon, 31, whose body was discovered in her car in bushland at Ashtonfield in April 1982.

As well as having pleaded not guilty to the murder, he has denied an alternative charge of being an accessory after the fact.

His Newcastle trial is due to start on November 13.

Mr Bruce told the court that Lawrence had consistently maintained the “principal offender” was his father-in-law, William Phillips, who had since died, and who Lawrence said had threatened him.

Lawrence’s son had recalled a 2002 conversation when his father told him Mr Phillips had killed Ms Dixon and Lawrence had later assisted him “under duress”, the lawyer said.

“It is a very weak crown case in relation to the murder,” he said, adding it was strong in relation to being an accessory, but there was a defence to the charge.

The lawyer for the Crown opposed bail, alleging Lawrence had told lies and was the “perpetrator” despite maintaining his father-in-law was the culprit.

After Mr Bruce submitted that Lawrence had no record of violence, a man in the public gallery stormed out of the court, describing him as a “monster”.

Justice Elizabeth Fullerton was told Lawrence had been in custody for about 16 months, had been on a disability pension for many years and, according to his ex-wife, was an alcoholic.

The judge will give her decision on Thursday afternoon.

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