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The?Death of Azaria Chamberlain

The growl came first, low, and throaty, piercing the darkness that had fallen across the remote Australian desert. A baby?s cry followed, and then abruptly went silent. Inside the tent, the infant girl had vanished. Outside, her mother was screaming: “My God, My God, the dingo’s got my baby!”

With those panicked words, the mystery of Azaria Chamberlain?s disappearance in the Australian Outback in 1980 became the most notorious, divisive and baffling legal drama in the country?s history. Had a wild dog really taken the baby? Or had Azaria?s mother, Lindy, slit her daughter?s throat and buried her in the desert?

The simple story is that three people heard the cry of Azaria on the night she disappeared from the tent in the camping ground at Ayers Rock (Uluru). Lindy saw a dingo coming out of the tent and dingo tracks were seen around and inside the tent. Blood from Azaria was found in large quantities ? for an infant ? on the tent mattress and other items, on the tent itself, near the carry-basket she had been sleeping in, and next to dingo tracks.

The Chamberlain family’s tent at the campsite at Uluru where a dingo took baby Azaria.Source: Supplied.

The nightmare began on Aug. 17, 1980, during a family vacation to Ayers Rock, the sacred Outback monolith now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru.

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, their two sons and their 9-week-old daughter, Azaria, were settling in for the night at a campsite near the rock. Azaria was sleeping in a tent and Lindy and Michael making dinner nearby when a baby?s cry rang out. Lindy went to check on her daughter and says she saw a dingo slink out of the tent and disappear into the darkness. Azaria?s bassinet was empty, the blankets still warm. There was an intense search, but Azaria was never found.

The Chamberlains insisted the dingo snatched their daughter. Outside the tent were dingo tracks; inside were spots of blood. Fellow campers told officials they had heard a low growl, then a baby?s cry. Azaria?s torn, bloodied jumpsuit was found in the surrounding desert. There was no motive for a crime, no eyewitness, no body.

But police and the public doubted a dingo was strong enough to drag away a 10-pound baby. Nobody could find documentation of a dingo killing a child before. While Australia is notorious for its deadly creatures, the humble dingo was considered a shy animal that posed little threat to people.

Millions of words have been written to try to come to grips with what has been called Australia?s biggest scandal. Depending on the survey, some 70% of Australia?s public believe Lindy is innocent of murder, and that a dingo was responsible. The remaining 30% most commonly respond that they know she is guilty?

Lindy and Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru.

Soon the people of an entire continent would be choosing sides in a debate over whether the cry heard that night marked an astonishing and rare human fatality caused by Australia’s wild dogs or was, rather, in the words of the man who would eventually prosecute her for murder, “a calculated, fanciful lie.” A jury of nine men and three women came to believe the latter story and convicted Lindy Chamberlain for the murder of her ten-week-old daughter, Azaria.

Three years later, while Lindy dealt with daily life in a Darwin prison, police investigating the death of a fallen climber discovered Azaria’s matinee jacket near a dingo den, and the Australian public confronted the reality that its justice system had failed.

What went wrong? Convictions of the innocent usually result from inaccurate eyewitness testimony (generally the?least?reliable evidence in a trial because of biases and the tricks of memory), but Lindy Chamberlain was convicted by flawed forensic evidence and by investigators and prosecutors unwilling to reconsider their assumptions in the face of contradictory evidence. The trial of Lindy Chamberlain, and her husband Michael, is a cautionary tale that everyone who practices forensic science should carefully consider.

Improbably shaped Ayers Rock rises 348 meters out of the dry Aboriginal heart of Australia. The monolith, called Uluru by natives, lures tourists drawn by its imposing shape and colors that migrate from gold to red in the changing sunlight. On August 13, 1980, the Chamberlain family left their home in the northern Queensland mining town of Mount Isa, heading west and then south to see central Australia’s most famous natural feature. At the time of their trip, Michael Chamberlain served as minister at Mount Isa’s Seventh Day Adventist Church, a denomination much misunderstood Down Under. He and his wife of ten years, Lindy, looked forward to several days of tenting and exploring with their three children, Aidan (age 6), Reagan (age 4), and Azaria (ten weeks).

The Chamberlains arrived late on the night of August 16 at the Ayers Rock campground. The next morning, Michael and the two boys climbed portions of the rock. Lindy, cradling Azaria in her arms, explored a formation called Fertility Cave. Just outside the cave, she looked up uneasily to see a dingo staring at her. She would later tell a detective that she had the feeling that the wild dog was “casing the baby.”

After sunset, the Chamberlain family gathered with other campers around the barbecues near their tent site. Lindy held her Azaria in her arms as she and Michael chatted with Greg and Sally Lowe, another young couple also vacationing with an infant. Around 8:00, as Sally Lowe walked to a rubbish bin to dispose of items left from the evening meal, she turned to see a dingo following four or five paces behind her. Minutes later, Michael entertained his son Aiden by tossing a crust of bread to a dingo that appeared near their barbecue bench. Lindy remonstrated, “You shouldn’t encourage them” about the same time as the dingo pounced on a mouse that young Aiden had been chasing.

Lindy announced “It’s time I put Bubby down” and retreated to the Chamberlain’s tent to make a suitable bed for Azaria. Ten minutes later, having left Azaria with her sleeping brother, Reagan, in the tent, Lindy rejoined the rest of the campers by the barbecue bench. A baby’s cry from the direction of the tent soon sent Lindy racing back to investigate. Then came her cry: “My God, My God, the dingo’s got my baby!”

An Australian wild Dingo dog pictured at an Australian Wildlife park can be seen in this April 1998 photo. In 1980 Lindy Chamberlain claimed her baby Azaria, was taken by a dingo while she and her family were on a camping trip near the giant monolith known as Ayers Rock. Frank Cole in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, July 4, 2004, told his side of the 24-year-old Outback mystery when he made claims he shot a dingo in 1980 that had the body of a small child in it’s mouth while on a camping trip near Ayers Rock but didn’t report the incident for fear of prosecution for shooting in a National Park. Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murdering her infant but was later released from prison and cleared of the crime after fresh evidence supported her claim that a dingo took her child. (AP Photo/Russell McPhedran)

Officers look for bones near the site where Azaria Chamberlain?s matinee jacket was found at Uluru in February 1986. Source: News Limited.

Frank Morris, the first investigator to arrive, shined a light across the floor of the Chamberlain tent, where he noticed blood on one of the rugs. Paw prints led away from the tent entrance, but faded as they hit a road. Meanwhile, six-year-old Aiden wailed to Sally Lowe, as he showed her the empty bassinet, “The dingo has our Bubby in its tummy.”

Soon campers were locating flashlights (“torches,” in Australian) and heading out into the dark scrub land. Nearly 300 men, women, and teenagers formed a human chain to look for tracks or pieces of clothing. Michael, who did not join the chain, had already assumed the worst, telling a fellow camper, “She’s probably dead now.” Then he added, incongruously, “I am a minister of the gospel.”

The main search turned up dingo tracks, but nothing more. Away from the chain, tourist Murray Haby had better luck, following the tracks of a large dingo under a sand ridge, Haby noticed a depression in the sand where the wild dog seemed to have laid down something it had carried. Called by Haby to investigate, ranger Derek Hoff and native tracker Nuwe Minyintiri studied the depression. The imprint in the sand suggested a knitted weave of some sort. The men looked for dingo tracks leading on from the depression, but the task proved hopeless.

For everyone who had been with the Chamberlains that day, or held the vigil with them that night as they waited for word on their daughter, there was no question that the Chamberlains were a loving family, and that they had just experienced the loss of their daughter and sister under horrific circumstances.

But false rumors began to fly. Some members of the media and police helped spread the rumours.

The four law men first assigned to the Chamberlain case talked over drinks at the Red Sands Motel. Inspector Michael Gilroy accepted the Chamberlain’s story, while Frank Morris kept his own counsel. John Lincoln, according to John Bryson’s account in?Evil Angels, doesn’t buy the dingo story: “Not a chance. Never happened before. There’s a fact you can’t beat. Never ever happened.” Gilroy noted that, even though none before had been fatal, there had been a series of recent dingo attacks in the park on children. Lincoln scoffs at the possibility that a dog could lug a ten pound baby over hundreds of yards. To prove his point, he leaves the room and returns with a pail filled with ten pounds of sand, which he succeeds in supporting by his mouth for less than a minute. He challenges the other officers to see if they can do better.

One week after Azaria’s disappearance, Wally Goodwin set out for a gully at the base of Ayers Rock, with plans to photograph wild flowers along the way. While walking along a densely foliated animal path, Goodwin spotted shredded clothes resting near a boulder. Upon closer inspection, the proved to be a torn nappy and a jumpsuit. Goodwin reported his discovery and Constable Morris arrived to collect the evidence.

On August 28, Detective-Sergeant Graeme Charlwood took over the Chamberlain investigation. While subordinates checked vehicle registrations of August 17 campground visitors, Charlwood could ponder Inspector Gilroy’s initial report on the case, which included suspicious tidbits of information. Gilroy reported that when Lindy had brought Azaria in for a medical check up, the baby was dressed in all black. The examining doctor is said to have been curious enough about the name “Azaria” to look it up in a Dictionary of Names and discover that it meant “Sacrifice in the Wilderness.” (Actually, it means “Whom God Aids.”) Gilroy also commented that Azaria’s clothes were found close to where the family hiked earlier in the day. He noted that the people who observed her that evening “assumed she was holding a baby when they have seen her holding a white bundle to her breast.”

In places around Australia, ranging from laboratories to wildlife parks, investigators conducted experiments to test the veracity of Lindy’s account of Azaria’s disappearance. Blood, vegetation, and hair samples found on Azaria’s clothing were examined. Dead dingoes shot in the Ayers Rock region following the disappearance were dissected by veterinarians looking for either human bone or human protein. Tears in the fibers of Azaria’s clothing were studied–Did the tears appear to be caused by a dingo’s teeth or by some human instrument? At Cleland Park wildlife reserve in Adelaide, dingos were tossed meat wrapped in a baby’s nappy, so that the nappy could be studied and compared to Azaria’s. From these various efforts, investigators began to build a case for murder.

Newspapers fuelled suspicions that the Chamberlains killed their baby, possibly as a religious sacrifice. Stories reported rumors that the Chamberlains were somehow linked to the Jonestown mass suicide two years earlier, or that Azaria might have been killed to atone for sins of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Reporters frequently observed that the many Australians concluded from televised interviews with the fatalistic Chamberlains that the couple’s demeanor didn’t match what they would expect from a couple that had just tragically lost a child.

On October 1, 1980 in Mount Isa, Charlwood conducted several-hour-long separate interviews with Lindy and Michael Chamberlain. His questions took her along the timeline from their departure for Ayers Rock to the days following Azaria’s disappearance. The interview was relatively cordial, but Lindy expressed repeated frustration with leaks to the press of forensic tests that seemed to cast doubt on her account of events. Charlwood took particular interest in Lindy’s unusual reaction to his suggestion that she be hypnotized in an effort to pull out additional details concerning her sighting of the dingo around the tent.

It fell to the magistrate and coroner of Alice Springs, Denis Barritt, to conduct what would eventually turn out to be the first of three coroner’s inquests into the death of Azaria Chamberlain.

Associated Press. Michael and Lindy Chamberlain outside a courthouse in Alice Springs, Australia, during their trial in 1982.

The first inquest found that Azaria had died by a dingo attack, and the Coroner chastised the police for shoddy work. He felt that some police may have been against the idea of a dingo being involved, and that their ?evidence? against the Chamberlains did not stand up.

Journalists crowded into Barritt’s no. 2 courtroom, with its high ceilings, polished furniture, and landscape paintings. The inquiry opened on December 16, 1980 with Ashley Macknay for the Northern Territory laying out the case for human intervention in her death. The evidence suggests that the clothes were put in place, not dragged by a dingo and the clothes show signs of being removed from the baby by a human, Macknay argued. Moreover, he added, the damage to the clothes is inconsistent with being caused by a dingo. Macknay questioned Lindy Chamberlain, but generally failed to show her as a mother with either the will or motive to kill her own child.

Television cameras were live when Barritt announced his findings. Barritt concluded his discussion of the voluminous evidence by finding that Azaria “met her death when attacked by a wild dingo whilst asleep in her family’s tent.” Neither of her parents were, Barritt found, “in any degree whatsoever responsible for her death.” Still, the number of oddities concerning Azaria’s clothing convinced Barritt that “the body of Azaria was taken from the possession of the dingo and disposed of by an unknown method, by a person or persons name unknown.”

Coroner Barritt’s findings might have been expected to discourage investigators bent on proving Lindy Chamberlain a murderer, but they did not. On September 19, 1981, officers of the Northern Territory police conducted a four-and-a-half hour search of the Chamberlain’s home, seizing over three hundred items ranging from items of clothing to scissors to the yellow Torana that they had driven to Ayers Rock. Detective Charlwood revealed to Lindy that the search had been prompted in part by the findings of British forensic expert James Cameron, who concluded from examining the baby’s clothes that no dingo had been involved in her disappearance. Lindy reacted coolly: “I didn’t know there were any dingo experts in London.”

In November 1981, Chief Minister Everingham, as attorney-general for the Northern Territory filed a motion to quash the findings of the first inquest based on newly discovered evidence. What finally convinced authorities to push for a second inquest was the presence of large quantities of blood in the Chamberlain’s dismantled automobile.

The second inquest into the death of Azaria opened in Alice Springs on December 14, 1981, before Coroner Gerry P. Galvin. Des Sturgess, the barrister assisting the coroner, made clear from his questioning of the Chamberlains his belief that Lindy Chamberlain took Azaria from the campsite on the evening of August 17, 1980 and murdered her in their yellow Torana with a sharp instrument, probably a scissors. Many of the questions directed at the Chamberlain concerned the presence of blood in the family automobile: “Did you notice any blood staining inside or outside the car when you cleaned it?”, “Do you recall cleaning blood off the seats?” Sturgess called biologist Joy Kuhl, who testified that she found fetal blood beneath the passenger seat of the Torana. James Cameron claimed in his testimony that the tear found on Azaria’s jumpsuit could hardly have come from a dingo–“It’s more consistent with scissors.”

A reporter from Sydney, Malcolm Brown, offered a concise comparison between the two coroners’ investigations. “The first inquest was about dingoes,” Brown said, while “this one is about blood.” The blood evidence persuaded Galvin. He charged Lindy Chamberlain with murder and Michael as being an accessory after the fact.

Azaria Chamberlain’s torn and bloodied jumpsuit found by a camper helped convince a jury that she had slit her baby daughter?s throat. Picture: NT Police Source: News Limited.

The Crown alleged that Lindy Chamberlain had cut Azaria’s throat in the front seat of the family car, hiding the baby’s body in a large camera case. She then, according to the proposed reconstruction of the crime, rejoined the group of campers around a campfire and fed one of her sons a can of baked beans, before going to the tent and raising the cry that a dingo had taken the baby. It was alleged that at a later time, while other people from the campsite were searching, she disposed of the body.

The key evidence supporting this allegation was the jumpsuit, as well as a highly contentious forensic report claiming to have found evidence of foetal haemoglobin in stains on the front seat of the Chamberlains’ 1977 Torana hatchback. Foetal haemoglobin is present in infants six months and younger; Azaria was nine weeks old at the time of her disappearance.

Lindy Chamberlain was questioned about the garments that Azaria was wearing. She claimed that Azaria was wearing a matinee jacket over the jumpsuit, but the jacket was not present when the garments were found. She was questioned about the fact that Azaria’s singlet, which was inside the jumpsuit, was inside out. She insisted that she never put a singlet on her babies inside out and that she was most particular about this. The statement conflicted with the state of the garments when they were collected as evidence. The garments had been arranged by the investigating officer for a photograph.

In her defence, eyewitness evidence was presented of dingoes having been seen in the area on the evening of 17 August 1980. All witnesses claimed to believe the Chamberlains’ story. One witness, a nurse, also reported having heard a baby’s cry after the time when the prosecution alleged Azaria had been murdered. Evidence was also presented that adult blood also passed the test used for foetal haemoglobin, and that other organic compounds can produce similar results on that particular test, including mucus from the nose and chocolate milkshakes, both of which had been present in the vehicle where Azaria was allegedly murdered.

Engineer Les Harris, who had conducted dingo research for over a decade, said that, contrary to Cameron’s findings, a dingo’s carnassial teeth can shear through material as tough as motor vehicle seat belts. He also cited an example of a captive female dingo removing a bundle of meat from its wrapping paper and leaving the paper intact. Evidence was also presented to the effect that a dingo was strong enough to carry a kangaroo and a report of the removal of a three-year-old girl by a dingo from the back seat of a tourist’s motor vehicle at the camping area just weeks before, an event witnessed by the parents.

The defence’s case was rejected by the jury. Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murder on 29 October 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael Chamberlain was found guilty as an accessory after the fact and was given an 18-month suspended sentence

An appeal was made to the High Court in November 1983. Asked to quash the convictions on the ground that the verdicts were unsafe and unsatisfactory, in February 1984 the court refused the appeal by majority.

The final resolution of the case was triggered by a chance discovery. In early 1986, English tourist David Brett fell to his death from Uluru during an evening climb. Because of the vast size of the rock and the scrubby nature of the surrounding terrain, it was eight days before Brett’s remains were discovered, lying below the bluff where he had lost his footing and in an area full of dingo lairs. As police searched the area, looking for missing bones that might have been carried off by dingoes, they discovered a small item of clothing. It was quickly identified as the crucial missing piece of evidence from the Chamberlain case, Azaria’s missing matinee jacket.

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory ordered Lindy Chamberlain’s immediate release and the case was reopened. On 15 September 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned all convictions against Lindy and Michael Chamberlain. The exoneration was based on a rejection of two key points of the prosecution’s case and of biased and invalid assumptions made during the initial trial.

The questionable nature of the forensic evidence in the Chamberlain trial, and the weight given to it, raised concerns about such procedures and about expert testimony in criminal cases. The prosecution had successfully argued that the pivotal haemoglobin tests indicated the presence of foetal haemoglobin in the Chamberlains’ car and it was a significant factor in the original conviction. But it was later shown that these tests were highly unreliable and that similar tests, conducted on a “sound deadener” sprayed on during the manufacture of the car, had yielded virtually identical results.

Two years after they were exonerated, the Chamberlains were awarded $1.3 million in compensation for wrongful imprisonment, a sum that covered less than one third of their legal expenses.

The findings of the third coroner’s inquest were released on 13 December 1995; the coroner found “the cause and manner of death as unknown.”

Police searching for a fallen hiker found Azaria?s matinee jacket near a dingoes lair on Uluru was a sensational discovery that freed Lindy Chamberlain. Picture: NT PoliceSource: News Corp Australia.

Thirty-two years after Azaria Chamberlain, 9 weeks old, disappeared from a campsite in Australia, the coroner in the fourth inquest into her death announced on Tuesday that the baby died as a result of being taken by a dingo, an Australian wild dog.

The ruling signified the end of three decades of struggle for the Chamberlain family. The coroner, Elizabeth Morris, with tears in her eyes, addressed the Chamberlain family in a courtroom in Darwin, Australia.

?Please accept my sincere sympathies on the death of your special daughter,? Ms. Morris said. ?I am so sorry. Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child.?

At the time of the death, many Australians could not believe a dingo, a small wild dog, would attack a human. Many Australians also turned against Ms. Chamberlain because, some suggested, she had not shown the kind of grief expected of a mother who had lost her child. The strain on the family was enormous, and she and her husband, Michael Chamberlain, divorced. But she never stopped pursuing vindication in a coroner?s ruling.

When testimony was being given in the inquest in February, Australian observers noted a change in the nation?s attitude toward the dingo. Adrian Peace, an honorary associate professor of anthropology at the University of Queensland, said, ?The demonization of Mrs. Chamberlain has been replaced by the demonization of the dingo.?

After the ruling was announced, Ms. Chamberlain smiled and cried and hugged friends and family members, including her ex-husband. ?Obviously we are relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga,? she said, adding, ?No longer will Australia be able to say dingoes are not dangerous and only attack if provoked.? Michael Chamberlain said afterward, ?I am here to tell you that you can get justice even when you think that all is lost, but truth must be on your side.?

The Chamberlain trial was the most publicised in Australian history. Given that most of the evidence presented in the case against Lindy Chamberlain was later rejected, the case is now used as an example of how media and bias can adversely affect a trial. Public and media opinion during the trial was polarised, with “fanciful rumours and sickening jokes” and many cartoons. In particular, antagonism was directed towards Lindy Chamberlain for reportedly not behaving like a “stereotypical” grieving mother. Much was made of the Chamberlains’ Seventh-day Adventist religion, including false allegations that the church was actually a cult that killed infants as part of bizarre religious ceremonies, that the family took a newborn baby to a remote desert location, and that Lindy Chamberlain showed little emotion during the proceedings.

One anonymous tip was received from a man, falsely claiming to be Azaria’s doctor in Mount Isa, that the name “Azaria” meant “sacrifice in the wilderness” (it actually means “God helped”). Others claimed that Lindy Chamberlain was a witch.

The press appeared to seize upon any point that could be sensationalised. For example, it was reported that Lindy Chamberlain dressed her baby in a black dress. This provoked negative opinion, despite the trends of the early 1980s, during which black and navy cotton girls’ dresses were in fashion, often trimmed with brightly coloured ribbon, or printed with brightly coloured sprigs of flowers.

Lindy Chamberlain gets first view of the remains of Azaria’s matinee jacket following her release from prison in February 1986.Source: News Limited.

Since the Chamberlain case, proven cases of attacks on humans by dingoes have been discussed in the public domain, in particular dingo attacks on Fraser Island (off the Queensland coast), the last refuge in Australia for isolated pure-bred wild dingoes. In the wake of these attacks, it emerged that there had been at least 400 documented dingo attacks on Fraser Island. Most were against children, but at least two were on adults. For example, in April 1998, a 13-month-old girl was attacked by a dingo and dragged for about one metre (3 ft) from a picnic blanket at the Waddy Point camping area. The child was dropped when her father intervened.

In July 2004, Frank Cole, a Melbourne pensioner, claimed that he had shot a dingo in 1980 and found a baby in its mouth. After interviewing Cole on the matter, police decided not to reopen the case. He claimed to have the ribbons from the jacket which Azaria had been wearing when she disappeared as proof of his involvement. However, Lindy Chamberlain claimed that the jacket had no ribbons on it. Cole’s credibility was further damaged when it was revealed he had made unsubstantiated claims about another case.

In August 2005, a 25-year-old woman named Erin Horsburgh claimed that she was Azaria Chamberlain, but her claims were rejected by the authorities and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Media Watch programme, which stated that none of the reports linking Horsburgh to the Chamberlain case had any substance.

In 2008, the Holden Torana car that was tested for Azaria’s blood in the original court case was used in the wedding of Aidan Chamberlain, Azaria’s brother, who was six when his sister disappeared. His bride arrived at the ceremony in the car and his father, Michael Chamberlain, said that he was proud the couple had chosen to use the car which was the centrepiece of the case.

Though others have suggested lawsuits against the NT and that an apology should come from the Northern Territory Lindy spoke only of forgiveness and moving on. She knows that learning to forgive is the only way she has travelled this journey without bitterness and without incurring the damage to her life that hurt and anger inflict. She also knows that an apology given unwillingly is no apology at all. In the end, she has never given up the only true form of freedom; the freedom of her mind.
The Chamberlains divorced in 1991 and both remarried. Lindy and her second husband lived for a time in the United States and New Zealand but have since returned to Australia.

Michael Chamberlain died after a long battle with leukemia on 9 January 2017, aged 72.

Timeline

June 11, 1980 Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain born.
August 17, 1980 9 weeks, 4 days, approx. 10lb. (4.5kg) Azaria was taken from the tent at Ayers Rock by a dingo
August 24, 1980 Wally Goodwin finds jumpsuit, booties, nappy, & singlet, matinee jacket still missing.
October 1&2, 1980 Police statements (ROI?s) given by all four Chamberlains at Mt. Isa, and car searched
February 20, 1981 Alice Springs Coroner Denis Barritt finds that a wild dog or dingo took Azaria; that no member of the Chamberlain family was responsible for her death, but there was interference with the clothing by ?person or persons unknown?. Ken Brown requests permission to do further tests on the jumpsuit.
September 20, 1981 Operation Ochre ? Chamberlain?s home raided simultaneously with the homes of all other key and some eye-witnesses.
November 20, 1981 Northern Territory Supreme Court (Darwin) quashes first inquest and orders a new one.
February 2, 1982 Second Inquest Coroner Gerry Galvin commits Lindy Chamberlain to trial on the charge of murdering Azaria. Michael Chamberlain is charged as an accessory after the fact. (dubbed ?Inquest by Ambush? in the media) $5,000 bail and $5,000 surety.
September 13, 1982 Trial begins in Darwin, NT Judge Justice James Muirhead of the Supreme Court presiding. Called the ?Trial of the Century?.
October 29, 1982 Lindy, heavily pregnant, is found guilty of 1st Degree Murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael, as accessory after the fact, receives an eighteen month suspended sentence.
November 17, 1982 Kahlia born in custody.
November 18 & 19 Federal Court bail application upheld pending 1982 appeal. Decision held overnight. $300 bail.
April 29, 1983 Federal Court unanimously rejects appeal. Lindy is held at Mulawa Women?s Prison, then transferred to Darwin after application for bail pending High Court appeal fails. Kahlia goes to live with foster parents Wayne & Jenny Miller.
July 19 & 27, 1983 Solicitor Stuart Tipple applies for Lindy?s temporary release due to Reagan?s eye accident. Request not granted.
February 22, 1984 High Court Appeal fails in a split judgement of 2 to 3.
May 3, 1984 A Petition of 131,000 signatures (later 150,000) presented to Sir Ninian Stevens, the Governor-General.
November 17, 1984 Applied for release on licence because of transfer of Kahlia?s foster parents. Application denied. Kahlia goes to new foster parents, Dr Owen and Jan Hughes.
June 4, 1985 Recently formed ?Innocence Committee? submits new evidence to the NT government, and makes an application for an inquiry.
February 3, 1986 Stuart Tipple is tipped off that the missing matinee jacket of Azaria has been found during a search for missing body parts belonging to a fallen climber at Ayers Rock. The matinee jacket had been held at the Alice Springs Court House since January 31.
February 5, 1986 Lindy finally sees the matinee jacket and positively identifies it. The matinee jacket was very significant because Lindy had said that Azaria had been wearing it the night she was taken by the dingo. The Crown had dismissed that claim as ?a fanciful lie?. When the matinee jacket turned up after five years, it was proof Lindy had not lied.
February 7, 1986 Senator Bob Collins forces local reporter Frank Alcorta to check his sources. He does, and is so infuriated he writes an article for the local paper and shows it to the NT Government, threatening to print it if Lindy is not released from jail by 12 noon, or an Inquiry is called. They do both.
June 2, 1987 After a fourteen month Royal Commission Justice Trevor Morling hands down his finding and clears the Chamberlain?s of all guilt or responsibility. If he had been asked he finds support for the view that Azaria was taken by a dingo. In response the NT offers them a Pardon. (This still indicates guilt in Australia.)
October 21, 1987 A new act of Parliament is forced through to allow the Chamberlain?s to return to court to clear their convictions.
November 4, 1988 Release of the film?Evil Angels?(A Cry in the Dark). It polarises the nation.
September 15, 1988 The Supreme Court of Darwin quashes all convictions and declares the Chamberlain?s totally innocent. The court also adopts Morling?s view that Azaria was taken by a dingo if they had been asked.
Jan/Feb 1990 Lindy tells Michael she wants a divorce.
June 27, 1991 The Chamberlain?s divorce becomes final. Kahlia chooses to live with Michael and visit Lindy, Reagan stays with Lindy and visits Michael. Aidan divides his time between the two homes.
February 1992 Lindy meets Rick Creighton during a speaking tour of the USA.
May 19, 1992 Rick proposes marriage; Lindy accepts.
May 25, 1992 Compensation paid to the Chamberlains by the Northern Territory government.
June 8, 1992 Lindy?s engagement to Rick is announced.
July 1992 Kahlia asks to return to live with Lindy and custody proceedings are started.
December 20, 1992 Rick and Lindy are married, and choose to live in Washington State, USA.
April 28, 1993 Lindy is given custody of Kahlia and Reagan (at the request of both children).
December 13, 1995 Findings of the Third Inquest are announced. NT Coroner John Lowndes reiterates that neither Lindy nor Michael were in any way involved with the disappearance of their daughter. He leaves the cause of Azaria?s death ?open? however.
August 1998 Lindy & Rick, wishing to be closer to Lindy?s ageing parents, and to Aidan, return with Reagan and Kahlia to live in Australia.
October 2002 Debut of the opera?Lindy?with Opera Australia.
October 2004 Lindy releases her completely up-to-date autobiography?Through My Eyes
November 2004 Mini series titled after Lindy?s book?Through My Eyes?is broadcast on Australia?s Channel 7 network.
August 10, 2010 Lindy releases to the media her ?Letter to Open Minded Australians?. This letter was brought to the attention of the NT Attorney-General
17 August 2010 Lindy receives a letter from the NT Attorney-General advising that she has requested the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages to conduct an enquiry to determine whether the particulars concerning the death of Azaria were accurate.
October 2010 The Northern Territory Attorney-General confirmed she does not have the power to require the Coroner to re-open the Inquest and requested any application from the Chamberlains should be directed to the Coroner?s Office.
December 16, 2011 Coroner Elizabeth Morris announces that she has determined to re-open the Inquest into the death of Azaria.
February 24, 2012 Coroner Morris holds the fourth Inquest into the death of Azaria.
June 12, 2012 Coroner Morris announces her finding that the cause of Azaria?s death was by being taken by a dingo. It is what the Chamberlains and the eyewitnesses had known all along, and the only alternative to murder posited by the Crown prosecutors.

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Chamberlain “Dingo” – Famous Trials

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton – Wikipedia

Lindy Chamberlain’s ‘dingo story’ wasn’t believed, it is revealed in …

Chamberlain trial drawings | National Museum of Australia

Retro Report | ‘A Dingo’s Got My Baby:’ Trial by Media

The Trial of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain (“The … – SSRN papers

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton – – Biography.com

Chamberlain, Azaria Chantel – Australian Dictionary of Biography – ANU

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