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Michael Chamberlain, who fought for years to clear his family's name after his baby daughter Azaria was killed by a dingo, has died at the age of He died in Gosford hospital on Monday after complications from leukaemia. The case of Mr Chamberlain and his wife, Lindy, attracted huge attention in Australia. Prosecutors believed that the couple had killed their daughter.
It was years before they were exonerated and the cause of death formally established. At a trial inLindy was found guilty of murdering Azaria and sentenced to life in jail. Michael was convicted as an accessory after the fact - until a chance discovery in overturned both verdicts. Speaking inwhen the Northern Territory coroner finally ruled that Azaria had been taken by a dingo, Mr Chamberlain said that the battle to get to the legal truth had taken too long.
Actor Sam Neill, who portrayed Michael in the film A Cry in the Dark, said: "Throughout their cruel ordeal and the years of injustice, Michael Chamberlain maintained that quiet unassuming dignity - an impressive man. Rest in peace.
On 17 Augustthe Chamberlain family were on a camping trip to Uluru, then called Ayer's Rock, when baby Azaria was taken from their tent by a dingo. Lindy reportedly cried out: "my God, my God, the dingo's got my baby! Azaria's body was never found. In the aftermath, an inquest accepted Lindy and Michael's version of events, but law enforcement officials decided they did not.
At the time, dingoes were not generally seen as dangerous, and the Chamberlains' story was not widely believed. A second inquest a year later led to allegations that the baby's throat had been cut and her body disposed of later. Chemical evidence of infant blood in the family car - which would later be widely discredited - was a key part of the prosecution.
Lindy was charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Michael was charged with being an accessory after the fact and received an month suspended sentence. Lindy said her baby had been wearing a jacket, but there was no evidence of one among the baby's other clothes, found near the campsite. She was still in prison in earlyhaving exhausted her legal options all the way to a High Court appeal, when a chance discovery revealed new evidence to support her story. David Brett, an English backpacker, fell to his death while attempting to climb Uluru.
The team searching for Mr Brett found a baby's jacket - matching exactly the brand and description Lindy gave in her testimony - in an area littered with dingo dens.
The revelation prompted authorities to order a fresh investigation and to release Lindy from prison. It would be another two years before the pair were fully cleared, following a royal commission investigation. Lindy and Michael's story split the nation, and the court case was covered in sensational fashion by the media. Their religion, as Seventh-Day Adventists, was not widely understood, leading to suspicion and even accusations of cult-like activity.
It was one of the biggest legal and media events of the s. After the miscarriage of justice emerged, the case became a prime example of media influence in court cases. Despite Lindy's release, the official cause of death remained the subject of debate for decades.
Many people in Australia still believed there was more to the case. Lindy and Michael divorced a few years after they were exonerated in the late s, and Lindy began a campaign to have dingoes acknowledged as dangerous to humans. In32 years after Azaria's death, a coroner issued the final report in the case, formally stating that Azaria was attacked and taken by a dingo, as her parents had always maintained.
Speaking after the verdict, Michael Chamberlain said "the truth is out" - and it was time for "some healing and a chance to put our daughter's spirit to rest". Dingo caused Australia baby death. Image source, Getty Images. What happened to Azaria Chamberlain? How did Lindy and Michael prove their innocence?
Image source, Reuters. Why did the case capture the world's imagination? A year battle. Related Topics. More on this story. Published 12 JuneBaby dingo pictures
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Death of Azaria Chamberlain