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Betty Dixon's 'killer' blames crony

But 1982 murder accused admits tying victim's corpse

By Deborah McAleese

The alleged killer of Co Down woman Betty Dixon in Australia more than 30 years ago claims another man murdered her.

However, Rodney Lawrence, a former cricketer, admitted tying the Holywood woman up after she was killed, a court in New South Wales heard yesterday.

The 64 year-old cried out "I'm not going to survive" when he was refused bail by the court.

Lawrence was charged last week with knifing Miss Dixon to death in a frenzied attack in April 1982.

Her body was discovered in her car in bushland north of Sydney three days after she disappeared. She had been stabbed 27 times.

During his bail application yesterday the court was told that Lawrence had claimed another man, who has since died, murdered Ms Dixon in her home, while he later tied up the body.

However a prosecution lawyer said the claim was not supported by forensic evidence, which appears to show Ms Dixon was murdered in her car.

Lawrence's lawyer applied for bail citing his client's poor health, the conditions where he was being held in custody, the age of the allegation and the fact that he had no criminal history.

However, bail was refused due to alleged inconsistencies in Lawrence's version of events and concerns for the safety of a witness if he were to be released.

According to media reports, Lawrence looked "dishevelled" during his court appearance.

The case was adjourned until January.

Lawrence was arrested by detectives last month following a tip-off from a member of the public.

Up until then there had been no breakthrough in the case for 33 years.

Ms Dixon was last seen alive leaving her local squash club on Saturday, April 3, 1982. Her body was found by a jogger three days later slumped over the steering wheel of her car.

She had been stabbed almost 30 times in her chest and neck and beaten across the head several times with a blunt object.

Her hands were bound behind her back with a black shoelace that had been tied in a neat bow.

Ms Dixon, who was known as Betty to her friends and family, travelled to Australia in 1979 with the intention of staying a year. However, she secured a job as a secretary with a mining company in Kurri Kurri, a small town in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, and decided to stay.

She lived in Metford, a suburb of the city of Maitland, which is north of Sydney.

The murder weapon has never been found.

Two years ago the New South Wales Government offered a reward for information leading to an arrest.

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