CANBERRA, June 12 — A 32-year legal mystery over the death of a baby in Australia’s outback came to an end today when a coroner found a dingo was responsible for the death of infant Azaria Chamberlain, a case that split national opinion and attracted global headlines.
The coroner’s finding ends a three-decade fight for justice by Azaria’s parents, Michael Chamberlain and Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, who was jailed for three years over her daughter’s death before she was later cleared.
Azaria disappeared on August 17, 1980, from a tent in a camping ground near Uluru, a towering, haunting monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock, one of central Australia’s main tourist attractions. Her body was never found.
Michael Chamberlain said outside the court the ordeal had been “a terrifying battle” but now the family had “a chance to put our daughter’s spirit to rest”. He and his former wife have always maintained Azaria was taken by a dingo.
The case was even turned into a Hollywood film, starring Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep as Azaria’s mother.
Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris found evidence from the case proved a dingo or dingoes were responsible for nine-week-old Azaria’s death and ruled that her death certificate should read “attacked and taken by a dingo”.
“What occurred on 17th August, 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,” Morris said.
In an emotional finding, Morris then offered her condolences to the Chamberlains, who were in the Darwin court room.
“Please accept my sincere sympathy on the death of your special loved daughter and sister Azaria. I am so sorry for your loss,” she said to the family.
“Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child,” Morris said.
Azaria’s death has now been the subject of four coronial inquests and a judicial inquiry known as a Royal Commission. — Reuters