Rodney Lawrence faces a sentence hearing for his role in the 1982 murder of Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon

SECRET: Rodney Lawrence will be sentenced next week for his role in the murder of Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon in 1982.
SECRET: Rodney Lawrence will be sentenced next week for his role in the murder of Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon in 1982.

IT’S not knowing why that hurts Elizabeth Dixon’s family the most. 

Why the 30-year-old squash-loving Northern Irish lass was targeted on that weekend in April, 1982. Why she was tied up and brutally stabbed 27 times. 

Why her body was dumped in a car at Ashtonfield.

And why it took more than three decades for Rodney Lawrence to reveal the dark secret he kept about Ms Dixon’s death. 

Lawrence, now 66, has maintained since being charged over Ms Dixon’s murder that while he was involved in dumping her body, he didn’t stab her. 

He claimed another man, who has since died, was responsible, and that the murderer put a knife to his throat, threatened him and made him help dispose of Ms Dixon’s body and her car in the bush. 

And on Wednesday, a dejected-looking Lawrence sat in the Newcastle Supreme Court dock and listened as Ms Dixon’s twin brother, William Dixon, and her sister, Ann Martin, read emotive victim impact statements.  

“Betty was too young to die,” Mrs Martin’s statement read. 

“It's not just her death, but the horrible, brutal way it occurred.

WHY: Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon's twin brother, William Dixon, surrounded by family outside Newcastle courthouse on Wednesday.

WHY: Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon's twin brother, William Dixon, surrounded by family outside Newcastle courthouse on Wednesday.

“The disbelief of how anyone could be so vicious and why.

"Betty didn't deserve that. “Nobody deserved that."

Crown prosecutor, Brad Hughes, SC, submitted that the 18 months Lawrence had spent in custody since being charged with murder was “not sufficient” penalty for his offending.  

But Justice Ian Harrison wanted to know why.

“Because of the length of time that he continued not to tell anyone,” Mr Hughes replied. “And because that allowed a great injustice to continue.”

Mr Harrison will deliver his sentence next week.

Outside court, Ms Dixon’s twin, William Dixon, said that after 35 years of asking why, the family would have to move on with their lives. 

“We wanted to know why,” Mr Dixon said. “Why she was singled out. “Why it happened. “Rodney Lawrence has got away with not saying a thing about this. “We haven't got the answers that we searched for and we'll probably never get them.”

COLD CASE: Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Dixon. Her body was driven to bushland near Ashtonfield in her Mazda 323 and dumped.

COLD CASE: Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Dixon. Her body was driven to bushland near Ashtonfield in her Mazda 323 and dumped.