herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Dingo killed Australian baby, coroner rules after parenets' 32-year battle

A 32-YEAR legal mystery over the death of a baby in Australia's outback has officially come to an end when a coroner found a dingo was responsible for killing infant Azaria Chamberlain.

The coroner's finding today ends a three-decade fight for justice by Azaria's parents, Michael and Lindy Chamberlain. Mrs Chamberlain was jailed for three years over her daughter's death before she was later cleared.

"This has been a terrifying battle, bitter at times, but now some healing, and a chance to put our daughter's spirit to rest," Michael Chamberlain told reporters in Darwin.

Azaria disappeared on August 17, 1980 from a tent in a camping ground near Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, one of central Australia's main tourist attractions.

Azaria's body was never found. Her parents always maintained she was taken by a wild dingo.

"Obviously we are relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga," Lindy Chamberlain, now known as Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, told reporters outside the court.

The dingo-baby case has been dramatised several times, and was turned into a Hollywood film A Cry In The Dark, starring Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain.

Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris found evidence from the case proved a dingo or dingoes were responsible for nine-week-old Azaria's death and ruled that her death certificate should read "attacked and taken by a dingo".

A first inquest in 1981 supported the parents' account but, a second inquest in 1982 overturned that finding and recommended Lindy and Michael Chamberlain stand trial.

Lindy Chamberlain, then pregnant with her fourth child, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael Chamberlain was convicted of being an accessory.

A judicial inquiry, known as a Royal Commission, overturned the convictions in 1987, leading to Lindy Chamberlain's release. A third inquest in 1985 returned an open verdict.

hnews@herald.ie

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