STORY: "Three decades to reach justice," by Malcolm Brown, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on June 9, 2012. (Malcolm Brown has been covering the Chamberlain case since 1980).

GIST: "Partly because the "crime scene" was in the wilderness, there was insufficient effort to preserve physical items, in particular the groundsheet in the tent where traces of dingo paw prints might have been found. Deficiencies in the police forensic performance were remarked on by the first coroner, Denis Barritt, in February 1981 when he found a dingo had taken the baby and severely criticised some police and the public for adopting what he thought was a prejudiced view. When the case was reinvestigated later in 1981, the world-renowned forensic pathologist Professor James Cameron examined the bloodied jumpsuit. He used spectrophotometry to discern what he decided was the bloodied handprint of a young adult on the jumpsuit. It certainly was a handprint. But it was not blood. It was dust - therefore the suggestion that Lindy, after cutting the baby's throat, held the jumpsuit in her bloodied hand was entirely unjustifiable. Cameron's report to the Northern Territory government also theorised that because of the circumferential bleeding at the collar the baby's throat had been cut and she had been decapitated. Justice Trevor Morling, the royal commissioner who inquired into the case in 1986-87, referred to the possibility of post-mortem bleeding as an explanation for the bloodstains on the jumpsuit, a possibility not mentioned in Cameron's report. If Cameron's report did the damage, causing the territory to reopen the inquiry, the total failure of the forensic biologist Joy Kuhl, who decided that matter taken from the Chamberlains' car and possessions was blood, was a catastrophe. Not only that, she performed tests that indicated the "blood" contained foetal haemoglobin, meaning it came from a baby. As it turned out in the royal commission, there was no blood. She had mistaken a positive response to tests for the presumptive presence of blood to mean she had found blood. She had fallen into the same trap as Cameron. She assumed that other explanations for the presumptive presence of blood could be dismissed. Professor Malcolm Chaikin, a renowned textiles expert, was called to examine abrasions in the baby's jumpsuit to see whether they had been caused by scissors or another bladed instrument, an important question because of the suggestion someone might have cut the jumpsuit to fabricate a dingo attack. He said the presence of tufts in the jumpsuit was the surest evidence a bladed instrument had been used. After the Chamberlains' convictions, a group of amateur scientists demonstrated with a domestic dog that canine dentition could produce perfect tufts, but Chaikin dismissed what they tried to put to him. He used an electron spectrometer on the jumpsuit to demonstrate that the tufts of ruptured fabric were in "planar array", meaning a bladed instrument must have been used. But he could never get away from what he had initially said about tufts. There has been a lot of talk about whether an unbiased jury could have been found, and about Australians' intolerance of outsiders, even about possible motives by the territory government to challenge a finding of a dingo attack because of an adverse effect on tourism. But most of the blame has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the key scientific witnesses for the Crown. They were too sure of themselves and most unwilling to concede, along with some of the police, that they might have been wrong. That finding is likely to confirm what should have been obvious from the outset - that a dingo sneaked into the unzipped tent at Ayers Rock camping area and snatched nine-week-old Azaria from her cot. Its growl had been heard, its footprints led into the tent, drag marks were found outside and there was a witness: Lindy Chamberlain."