Dingo took Azaria Chamberlain, coroner finds
June 12, 2012 - 11:15AM
A dingo was responsible for the death of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980, a Northern Territory coroner has found.
Coroner Elizabeth Morris told a packed courtroom today that a dingo was to blame for the attack at Uluru.
The inquest was the fourth into the death of Azaria since the nine-week-old child disappeared on a camping trip.
Court hearings in the 1980s resulted in Lindy Chamberlain being jailed for murder while her then husband, Michael Chamberlain, was given a suspended sentence for being an accessory after the fact.
But after Azaria's matinee jacket was found in 1986, the case was reopened and a royal commission in 1987 exonerated both parents.
In 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal overturned all convictions against the Chamberlains.
However, a coronial inquest in 1995 delivered an open verdict.
During the most recent inquest, both the counsel assisting the coroner, Rex Wild, QC, and the lawyer representing Azaria's parents, Stuart Tipple, agreed a dingo was the most likely cause of the baby's death.
The finding means Ms Chamberlain-Creighton, as she is known after remarrying, and Mr Chamberlain have finally won recognition that a dingo killed their child.
The decision will mean that Azaria's death certificate will be changed.
In the final moments of handing down her finding, an emotional Ms Morris apologised to the Chamberlain family.
Ms Morris said she was satisfied the evidence was "adequate, clear, cogent and exact and excluded all other reasons possible".
She told the court: "[Azaria] died at Uluru on 17th August 1980 as a result of being attacked and taken by a dingo."
She told them an amended death certificate was available immediately to them.
Ms Chamberlain-Creighton returned to Darwin yesterday, on what would have been the 32nd birthday of Azaria, so she could be in court for the decision.
Before the finding was handed down, Mr Tipple said the coroner had been presented with fresh evidence detailing 11 serious dingo attacks that had occurred since the last inquest into Azaria's death.
But Mr Tipple rejected the suggestion the Chamberlains wanted to put to rest any doubts about their innocence.
"I don't really think that anybody that is right thinking or really studied the evidence could possibly entertain that Lindy or Michael are involved," he told ABC Radio today.
"There have been enough judicial decisions about that. This is really just the final public record that needs to be corrected."
Mr Tipple says that from his experience all parents who have lost children in tragic circumstances share a common view.
"They really want to make sure this doesn't happen to another family and to another parent," he said.
"It's not really just a cause or a journey for themselves."