Mother jailed in dingo baby murder
Lindy Chamberlain has been found guilty of the murder of her nine-week-old daughter after a jury dismissed her claim that a dingo took the baby.
The court was told that she cut the baby’s throat and disposed of the body whilst at a campsite near Ayers Rock.
Mrs Chamberlain, who is expecting her fourth child, will now start her mandatory life term with hard labour after being sentenced in Melbourne, Australia.
Her husband, Michael Chamberlain, was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of baby Azaria, but has not yet been sentenced.
Azaria Chamberlain went missing from the campsite in 1980. Her body has never been recovered but her bloodstained clothes were found and formed the main part of the investigation.
In an earlier inquest the judge accepted the Chamberlains’ claim that a dingo had taken their baby but further investigations by British pathologists showed the wounds, indicated by bloodstains on the baby’s clothes, could not have been caused by a dingo and a second investigation was started.
Australian experts disagreed with the findings and claimed that assertions Azaria’s throat had been cut were completely unfounded.
During the seven-week trial the jurors were taken to the Ayers Rock site. Among questions raised was the possibility that a dingo’s jaw would not be strong enough to carry off a baby.
The case has taken the country by storm and become known as “Australia’s murder trial of the century”. It was expected to end with an acquittal and it is thought that there will now be an appeal.
Barrister John Bryson said: “An appeal is the most expected phenomenon”.
Four years later on 2 February, a matinee jacket worn by Azaria was found partially buried in a dingo’s lair at Ayers Rock – this seemed to back up Lindy Chamberlain’s version of events.
She was released five days later. The Northern Territory government said it was because she had “suffered enough”.
In September 1988 judges in Darwin pardoned the Chamberlains. Another inquest in 1995 returned an open verdict. The body of Azaria has never been found. The case inspired the 1988 film, A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.
An opera about the Chamberlains’ story was performed at Sydney Opera House in October 2002.