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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lindy Chamberlain's Final Victory

Deputy NT Coroner Elizabeth Morris yesterday found that a dingo killed baby Azaria Chamberlain while the family was on a camping trip to Uluru in 1980.  Lindy and Michael finally got what they wanted - a death certificate officially stating the truth.

Stuart Tipple

Linda Chamberlain-Creighton paid tribute to the family's tenacious solicitor Stuart Tipple, who has stood by the family from the very beginning.  When he became aware of serious deficiencies in the forensic testing procedures in NSW, he lodged a formal complaint which was upheld and changes were put into place to NSW testing procedures and protocols.  And it was Stuart Tipple who agitated for, and finally brought about, the Royal Commission.

When Azaria was taken in 1980, there was no history of wild dogs killing infants but later events produced a dossier of 14 serious attacks since 1986 on humans, three of them fatal.  A 9 year old boy, Clinton Gage died on Fraser Island and two 2 year old girls were killed, one in NSW and the other in Victoria.

Coroner Morris said "I am satisfied that the evidence is sufficiently adequate, clear, cogent and exact that the evidence excludes all other reasonable possibilities to find that what occurred on October 17, 1980 was that shortly after Mrs Chamberlain placed Azaria in the tent, a dingo or dingoes entered the tent, took Azaria and carried and dragged her from the immediate area."

Lindy said yesterday "No longer will Australians be able to say that dingoes are not dangerous and only attack when provoked.  We live in a beautiful country but it is dangerous and we would ask all Australians to be aware of this and take appropriate precautions and not wait for somebody else to do it for them."

A second Coroner's inquest ended with Mrs Chamberlain-Creighton being charged with murder and Michael charged with being an accessory after the fact.  She was found guilty of slashing her baby's throat with scissors and making it look like a dingo attack and was sentenced to life in prison.  After serving three years, she was released in 1986 after Azaria's matinee jacket was found which supported her evidence that Azaria was wearing one when she disappeared.

The Morling Commission debunked the forensic evidence and her conviction was overturned.  Then yet another inquest was held which couldn't determine the cause of death and now at last, we have an end to this tragic event.

Lindy said yesterday that she was glad the saga was finally over and so are we.  Seeing her again reminds us of how she must have suffered from all the vitriol hurled at her and her husband.  When the story first broke about a religious couple who said their baby was taken by a dingo at Ayres Rock, the general public and more importantly, the irresponsible media, refused to believe it.

When it was discovered they were Seventh Day Adventists, a relatively unknown religion, the media pushed the idea that they were members of some bizarre cult who carried out weird rituals and rites.  The newspapers printed the rumour that the name Azaria meant "sacrifice in the wilderness" when it fact is means "blessed of God."  Nobody believed a dingo took the baby because it hadn't happened before.

This woman of steel has finally seen it through to the bitter end, and never faltered along the way.  She had her eyes firmly set on yesterday's legal outcome and against all odds, and three decades later, she achieved her goal - a death certificate stating what really happened on that terrible night.

Michael Chamberlain was not with his second wife in court yesterday, she is recovering from a serious stroke.  But he wanted to speak and said "This battle to get the legal truth about what caused Azaria's death has taken too long.  However, I am here to tell you that you can get justice even when you think all is lost, but truth must be on your side."  He added "If you know you are right, never give up on getting it right."

Azaria would have turned 32 on Monday.   Asked if anyone had phoned Lindy to apologise, she replied "You are being funny, aren't you?"