Hedley Thomas, the investigative journalist behind The Teacher’s Pet, will deliver another podcast for The Australian, this one focusing on the murder of Janine Vaughan.
Thomas has won seven Walkley awards, two of which are Gold Walkleys, and has been with The Australian since 2010. He won one of those Gold Walkleys for The Teacher’s Pet podcast, alongside producer Slade Gibson.
The Night Driver will explore the story behind Vaughan’s murder in the regional town of Bathurst. Launching on Friday 7 August, the investigative series will look at how the town turned on one of its most prominent citizens – its former top detective and deputy mayor – as the suspected killer.
The Night Driver is a story about an obsessive quest of Vaughan’s younger sister, a country music singer and Hunter Valley mum and her remarkable efforts to track down violent suspects, leads, cranks, and cops who might know something.
The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Christopher Dore, said: “Hedley Thomas is a master storyteller. He is a pioneer of podcasting in Australia, using his exceptional skills as an investigative journalist with 30 years’ experience in print to bring to life gripping tales for a new audience.
“Listeners are rightly addicted to our podcasts, and led by Hedley, The Australian is dedicated to bringing our audience world-class investigative audio journalism.
“I defy anyone to tune in for episode one and not be immediately obsessed with The Night Driver. Hedley’s podcasts have already been downloaded 50m times around the world. Get ready to be mesmerised by this shocking story, which will also unfold in the pages of The Australian, and on our app and website.”
Thomas said: “The disappearance of Janine Vaughan has been a baffling mystery after investigations spanning almost 20 years by dozens of detectives, an anti-corruption inquiry and a coroner. The grief of Janine’s family is made worse because they do not have a body and they cannot lay her to rest. They have seen serious suspects come and go without charge. They have placed their faith in The Night Driver to sort the facts from town gossip and renew public interest to try to shed new light on what happened to Janine.”
The Teacher’s Pet catapulted the story of Lynette Dawson’s disappearance into the public eye with its popularity, resulting in the launch of a NSW Police Strike Force into the claims of sexual assault and student-teacher relationships discussed in the podcast. Lynette Dawson’s husband Chris Dawson was also arrested after the podcast was released, although reports have denied the title assisted in the arrest.
Managing director The Australian, NSW & prestige titles, Nicholas Gray said: “Hedley’s first investigative podcast found a global audience, I’m confident this new series will do the same. We have had great success in reaching new and engaged audiences through our podcasts and we’re pleased to welcome back Harvey Norman as our supporting partner for The Night Driver, turning to the power of audio to connect with audiences through quality journalism.
“We’re also excited that, as part of continued investment in our digital products, we can now offer our valued subscribers a premium listening experience and exclusive first access via The Australian app.”
Subscribers of The Australian will have first access to the series via the podcast player in The Australian app. Episodes one and two will be available to subscribers before they are released publicly. Subscribers of The Australian will always be two episodes ahead of the general public.
The Night Driver podcast is supported by Harvey Norman which also sponsored The Teacher’s Pet.
The Night Driver is investigated and written by Thomas with Peter Murphy. Audio and music production by Blacksmith & Co. Additional audio support: Chris Bosley. Additional research: Katrina McGowan, Additional sound: Stephen Hopes, Additional interviews: Janine Hosking, Production Support: iKandy Films. Video trailer by Gwyn Dixon, 3P Studio.