Aussie coroner agrees dingo took baby in 1980 case

By Rod Mcguirk

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 12 2012 6:34 a.m. MDT

"If you go to court enough times, you are bound to get a win sooner or later," Morris added of the parents' victory Tuesday.

The parents and the eldest of their three surviving children, Aiden Chamberlain, 38, on Tuesday collected Azaria's new death certificate. The son made national news in 2006 when he used as his wedding car the same yellow sedan that took the family to Uluru in 1980 and that a forensic scientist wrongly determined was spattered with an infant's blood.

Years later, more sophisticated tests determined the "blood" was a combination of spilled milk and a chemical sprayed during manufacture under the car's dashboard.

"We're relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga," a tearful but smiling Chamberlain-Creighton told reporters outside the court.

She later said she was undecided whether the coroner's finding was a cause for celebration.

"I celebrate the final triumph of truth, but I don't celebrate her death and the two are so intertwined — I have no idea what I feel about that," she told Nine Network television in a paid exclusive interview.

Coroner Elizabeth Morris said she was "satisfied that the evidence is sufficiently adequate, clear, cogent and exact and that the evidence excludes all other reasonable possibilities."

The findings mirror those of the first coroner's inquest in 1981. But that inquest found that somebody had later interfered with Azaria's clothing, which was later found relatively unscathed in the desert.

A second coroner's inquest triggered a Northern Territory Supreme Court trial that resulted in Chamberlain-Creighton being found guilty of slashing her daughter's throat and making it look like a dingo attack.

She was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to life in prison with hard labor.

She was released in 1986 after evidence was found that backed up her version of events: the baby's jacket, found near a dingo den, which helped explain the condition of the rest of the baby's clothing. A Royal Commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, debunked much of the forensic evidence used at her trial and her conviction was overturned.

A third inquest could not determine the cause of death.

The fourth inquest heard new evidence of dingo attacks, including three fatal attacks on children since the third inquest.

Morris, the coroner, noted that dingo experts disagree on whether a dingo could have removed the clothing so neatly and without causing more damage.

"It would have been very difficult for a dingo to have removed Azaria from her clothing without causing more damage than what was observed on it, however it would have been possible for it to have done so," she said.

Michael Chamberlain had threatened to go the Northern Territory Supreme Court to force another inquest if Morris had not agreed to reopen the case. Another coroner had rejected his application in 2004 for a fourth inquest to challenge the 1995 finding.

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

He said his quest for a death certificate that acknowledged his daughter had been killed by a dingo had seemed to be a "mission impossible."

"This battle to get to the legal truth about what caused Azaria's death has taken too long," Chamberlain said.

"However, 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."

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