BACKGROUND: WIKIPEDIA): Michael and Lindy Chamberlain's first daughter, Azaria, was born on June 11, 1980. When Azaria was two months old, Michael and Lindy Chamberlain took their three children on a camping trip to Ayers Rock, arriving on August 16, 1980. On the night of August 17, Chamberlain reported that the child had been taken from her tent by a dingo. A massive search was organised, but all that was found were remains of some of the bloody clothes, which confirmed the death of baby Azaria. Her body has never been discovered. Although the initial coronal inquiry supported the Chamberlains' account of Azaria's disappearance, Lindy Chamberlain was later prosecuted for the murder of her child on the basis of the finding of the baby's jumpsuit and of tests that appeared to indicate the presence of blood found in the Chamberlains' car. This forensic gathering convicted her of murder on October 29, 1982, and sentenced her to life imprisonment; the theory was that she slit the child's throat and hid the body. Michael Chamberlain was convicted as an accessory to murder. Shortly after her conviction, Lindy Chamberlain gave birth to her fourth child, Kahlia, on November 17, 1982, in prison. An appeal against her conviction was rejected by the High Court in February, 1984. New evidence emerged on February 2, 1986 when a remaining item of Azaria's clothing was found partially buried near Uluru in an isolated location, adjacent to a dingo lair. This was the matinee jacket which the police had maintained for years did not exist. Five days later, Chamberlain was released. The Northern Territory Government publicly said it was because "she had suffered enough." In view of inconsistencies in the earlier blood testing which gave rise to potential reasonable doubts about the propriety of her conviction and as DNA testing was not as advanced in the early 1980s it emerged that the 'baby blood' found in her car could have been any substance, Lindy Chamberlain's life sentence was remitted by the Northern Territory Government and a Royal Commission began to investigate the matter in 1987. Chamberlain's conviction was overturned in September, 1988 and another inquest in 1995 returned an open verdict. In recent years there have been fatal dingo attacks on children, one famous instance being at the holiday resort at Fraser Island.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Canada has its own Dingo case - the the prosecution of Louise Reynolds for the second-degree murder of her seven-year-old daughter Sharon - Sharon Reynolds case - and it involves none other than Dr. Charles Smith. Smith stubbornly held on to his opinion that Sharon had died after receiving eighty-one knife and scissors wounds - in spite of the clear signs - that should have been evident to a real forensic pathologist that Sharon had been savaged by a Pit Bull in the basement of the family home. As Justice Justice Stephen Goudge noted in the report of his public inquiry, Smith tended "to mislead the court" by overstating his knowledge in a particular area, rather than acknowledging the limits to his expertise. "When Dr. Smith performed the post-mortem examination in Sharon's cases, he had little experience with either stab wounds or dog bites. He had only seen one or two cases of each kind. At the preliminary hearing, however, Dr. Smith left the impression that he had significant experience with both. Dr. Smith told the court: "I've seen dog wounds, I've seen coyote wounds, I've seen wolf wounds. I recently went to the archipelago of islands owned by another country up near the North Pole and had occasion to study osteology and look at patterns of wounding from polar bears. His attempt to so exaggerate his abilities disguised his lack of relevant expertise." Smith's unscientific, utterly ignorant opinion, placed Louise Reynolds in a hell in which she was wrongly arrested as a murderer in her small city, imprisoned, and experiencing the horror of having her other children seized from her by the authorities. Similarly, Lindy Chamberlain, a bereaved mother, was branded as a killer and placed in her own hell, as a result of the Crown's forensic authorities who were so certain about their opinions. Lindy Chamberlain's request to have her daughter's death certificate to reflect the real cause of death to give her and her family closure. The authorities are always talking about the need for the justice system to provide closure for victims of crimes. Why would they hesitate to provide closure to victims of wrongful prosecutions such as Lindy Chamberlain and her husband?
"SYDNEY — Jury notes detailing the behind-the-scenes deliberations in Australia’s most famous murder trial have emerged, shedding new light on the conviction of Lindy Chamberlain over the disappearance of her infant daughter more than 30 years ago," reporter Bonnie Malkin's story, published on August 10, 2010, under the heading, "Notes from notorious 'dingo's got my baby' trial show jurors torn over conviction."
"Chamberlain was accused of murdering her two month-old daughter Azaria on a family camping trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru) in 1980 by slashing her throat with scissors and then hiding the body. She repeatedly denied harming Azaria, insisting that the child had been carried off and killed by a dingo," the story continues. "Despite largely circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution, Chamberlain was found guilty by the jury in 1982 and sentenced to life in prison. Her husband Michael was convicted as an accessory.
The handwritten notes, obtained by Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper, were found amongst 145 boxes of police files on the case that were destined for the National Archives. Written over 14 pages, they show that three female jurors — a teacher and two housewives — voted for a conviction while at least four of the nine men had to be persuaded Chamberlain was guilty.
"Doesn’t believe dingo," one of the housewives is recorded as declaring in the notes.
Another said that, while she was going to convict Chamberlain, she still found it "hard to accept Mrs C did it."
The teacher, who was swayed by a prosecution expert who said Azaria’s jumpsuit had been cut with scissors and not torn by dingo teeth, said: "Look at totality must say guilty."
Notes on the deliberation of the male jurors reveal far more doubt.
One juror of the public servants was quoted as saying simply: "Can’t believe Mrs C did it." Another public servant said: "Probability dingo could do it."
The seven-week trial captivated the country and deeply divided public opinion. Women emerged as Chamberlain’s harshest critics, questioning her lack of emotion and why she and her husband failed to join a police hunt for Azaria’s body.
The case took another twist in 1988 when hikers stumbled across the baby’s jacket, which police had said did not exist, near a dingo lair close to the location of the baby’s disappearance.
The discovery vindicated Chamberlain, and she was released from prison five days later after a judge ruled that she had "suffered enough."
Fatal attacks by dingos have continued. In 2001, a nine year-old boy was killed by two native dogs while playing on a beach on Queensland’s Fraser Island."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be accessed at:
My interest in forensic pathology began with my Toronto Star investigative reporting into once famed since disgraced former doctor Charles Smith. I began this Blog after retiring from the Star in 2006 in order to follow the aftermath into the independent Goudge inquiry into many of Smith's cases. I have now begun to focus on cases involving flawed forensic science no matter where they occur (the recent Amanda Knox prosecution in Italy, for example) and am fascinated by the interest in the Blog from people in countries throughout the world. In another development, my interest in "junk science" "pseudo-experts" and the miscarriages of justice they all too often cause has drawn me deeply into the on-going U.S. death penalty debate where so many troubling cases involve issues relating to DNA and other developments in the world of forensic science. For all of this I rely on my experience as a reporter at the Toronto Star, my work as a lawyer in Ontario's criminal courts, and my abhorrence of injustice. Please send cases and developments which may be of interest to this Blog to email@example.com. Read on! Harold Levy.