Lindy Chamberlain was 64 yesterday (Sunday 4 March 2012). She has spent half her life fighting the accusation that she murdered her baby daughter Azaria at Ayers Rock in 1980.
She is continuing the fight now. She is wants the Darwin coroner to find that Azaria was killed by a dingo and for her death certificate to reflect this.
I covered the Chamberlains' appeals in the Federal and High Courts in 1983 and 1984. That and subsequent events have been an instructive experience.
At the end of the Federal Court appeal I was convinced of Lindy Chamberlain's guilt. Ian Barker QC, for the Crown, put an incisive case, as he did at the trial.
In the Federal Court Barker was there to argue that the jury's guilty verdict was safe and satisfactory.
He used the rope analogy. Each strand of evidence, he said, was not in itself convincing, just suggestive of guilt. But taken together they formed a strong rope.
He cited the foetal blood in the Chamberlain's car; the infrared image of a hand on the jump suit (which had been found a week later); blood splatter evidence; vegetation; sand grains only on the surface of the blood drops; evidence of dingo jaw width; scissor-like slicing of the fabric of the jump suit and so on.
It was like an early version of CI. Very convincing when taken together.
It convinced the Darwin jury, especially when another ingredient was added.
Barker told the jury that Territorians knew that crocodiles were dangerous and could take a baby or an adult, but that dingoes just did not do that. Territorians knew that.
It was the frontier mentality. Lindy's lawyer was from Melbourne – down south where they don't understand these things. And the jury bought it.
They bought it despite the judge, Justice James Muirhead, summing up in a way that a sophisticated jury would suggest an acquittal was warranted.
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