‘Dingo killed my baby 32 years ago, now I want other mothers warned’

A MOTHER jailed for killing her baby 32 years ago and later exonerated returned to court in Australia yesterday in a bid to have a coroner rule that a wild dog, or dingo, was to blame.

It was the fourth inquest into the death of nine-week-old Azaria Chamberlain, who disappeared from a campsite at Ayers Rock in the remote Northern Territories in 1980.

Mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and her former husband Michael Chamberlain were reunited at the inquest to hear evidence of hundreds of dingo attacks across Australia over the past three decades.

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They want a previous finding of the cause of death changed from “unknown” to reflect that a dingo killed their daughter.

Rex Wild QC, counsel assisting the Northern Territory coroner, gave evidence about three fatal attacks on children and 14 other incidents, most of them on Fraser Island in Queensland. They included that of ten-year-old schoolboy Clinton Gage, who was savaged to death by a pack of dingoes on the holiday island in May 2001.

Mr Wild said there was enough evidence during the last inquest in 1995 to prove the baby was taken by a dingo and that, after the latest submissions, there should be no doubt.

Both parents also made personal submissions.

Lindy sat in the front row of courtroom No 2, with her second husband Rick Creighton.

Her former spouse Michael occasionally bowed his head as he listened to the evidence.

The court heard from Anne Lade, a former police officer hired by the court to investigate the case. Ms Lade said there had been many attacks by dingoes, which had caused injuries and at least three deaths.

Mr Wild described several of these attacks to the court. “Although it [a dingo killing a child] may have been regarded as unlikely in 1980 or 1986-87 or 1995 [the dates of the previous inquests] it shouldn’t be by 2011-12,” Mr Wild said.

Michael Chamberlain told the court that people needed to be warned of the danger of dingoes and he remained deeply afraid of the native wild dogs ever since Azaria was taken.

Fighting back tears, he said the propensity of dingoes to attack and kill children had become a fact since his daughter vanished more than 30 years ago.

“Since the loss of Azaria I have had an abiding fear and paranoia about safety around dingoes,” he said. “They send a shudder up my spine.

“It is a hell I have to endure.

“In the eyes of a mother, a father, virtually all of the Ayers Rock witnesses in 1980, a dingo stole a little girl from our humble tent and killed her. It’s no longer a hypothesis, it’s a fact.”

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, jailed in 1982 for murdering Azaria before later being cleared, pleaded with the coroner to set the record straight. Mrs Chamberlain-Creighton, who had sought the new inquest, said she hoped it would be the final one and that her name and that of her ex-husband would be cleared once and for all.

Outside the court, Mr Chamberlain said he was hopeful the inquest would deliver closure to a decades-old mystery.

She said: “It gives me hope that this time Australians will finally be warned and realise dingoes are a dangerous animal, and I also hope this will give a final finding which closes the inquest into my daughter’s death.”

Coroner Elizabeth Morris will deliver her finding at a later date after she has had time to study the evidence of hundreds of people who have reported being attacked by dingoes.