A dingo was responsible for the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain a coroner has ruled, 32 years after the tragedy which led to a mistaken murder conviction.
The two-month-old baby vanished from a campsite near Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in 1980, sparking a lasting debate over whether her mother Lindy who was jailed for murder, was responsible for the death.
Mrs Chamberlain-Creighton served three years in prison, but was later cleared and has always maintained a dingo took her daughter, AP reports.
Speaking outside a Darwin court on Tuesday, she said: "We're relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga."
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Speaking during the fourth inquest held into the baby's death, coroner Elizabeth Morris said: "I find that a dingo took Azaria and dragged her from her tent," AFP reported.
"It is clear that there is evidence that in particular circumstances a dingo is capable of attacking, taking and causing the death of young children," she added.
“My god the dingoes took my baby," Lindy Chamberlain is said to have cried the night her daughter disappeared, words that were described as a "calculated fanciful lie" in court. As well as splitting the nation, her words inspired the 1988 film "A Cry in the Dark" featuring Meryl Streep as distraught mother Lindy.
People had campaigned outside the court wearing T-shirts reading “the dingo is innocent!” while the jury laughed when they were shown pictures of dingoes as evidence.
However implausible, in 1981 a coroner ruled that baby Azaria was taken by dingoes.
It was a second inquiry in October 1982 that resulted in Lindy Chamberlain being convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with then-husband Michael convicted as accessory after the fact.
Much of the evidence rested on analysis of Azaria’s jumpsuit, found a week after the tragedy at the base of the rock. A slit to the neck of the baby-gro was judged to be made by scissors or a knife rather than dingo teeth, while a “bloodied” handprint was found on Azaria’s clothes.
Yet in one of biggest forensic blunders ever, the "bloodied handprint" turned out to be red desert dust, while more "blood" found in the family car was discovered to be chemical sound deadener.
Both convictions were overturned in one of the most mysterious cases in Australia’s legal history.
At the time of the tragedy dingo attacks were relatively rare, and the jury was sceptical that a dingo would be able to take a 4kg baby from her parent’s tent.
However In April 2001, a group of dingoes stalked and killed nine-year-old Clinton Gage, while a number of cases of dingo harrassment have been recorded on Fraser Island, Queensland.
A third inquiry returned an open verdict, with Michael Chamberlain voicing hope the fourth investigation would bring closure.
“We believe that new evidence will indicate that dingoes can in fact kill babies,” he said. “I trust that the truth will now be determined.”
Michael and Lindy Chamberlain, leave Alice Springs Court House, on Feb. 2, 1982, after being committed to stand trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on a charge of muredr over the death of their nine-week-ild daughter at Ayers Rock on August 17, 1980. Coroner Gerry Galvin committed the two at the end of a second inquest. The coroner at the foirst inquest found that baby Azaria had been taken from the Chamberlains tent by a dingo. (AP Photo)
Lindy Chamberlain, the mother who was jailed for the murder of her daughter, Azaria, arrives in court in Darwin, Australia, June 12, 1986, to attend the enquiry into her conviction. She claims a wild dingo dragged her daughter out of the family tent when they were camping near Ayers Rock in Aug. 1980. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.4869414
The sun sets on Ayers Rock, or Uluru, by sunset, Northern Territory, Australia. This is where baby Azaria went missing from.
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton arrives at Darwin Airport ahead of the fourth coronial inquest into the death of her daughter Azaria. Azaria disappeared in 1980 from Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Ms Chamberlain-Creighton was convicted of murder in 1982, but later exonerated. Image: Xavier La Canna Date: February 23, 2012
Lindy Chamberlain and Aidan Leigh Chamberlain
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton addresses the media after a coroner ruled her daughter had indeed been taken by a dingo
Lindy and Michael Chamberlain