A Fair Trial? The Azaria Chamberlain Case (Australia). How did a jury of twelve people come to convict Lindy Chamberlain of her daughter's death? 24/25

2227 Words Jan 21st, 2007 9 Pages
On the 1st of October, 1980, Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from her campsite at Ayers Rock. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, claimed that a dingo had taken her. In the months and years that ensued, the Chamberlains faced innuendo fuelled by the media, undeserved public shame and an unfair verdict handed down by a jury who had been confused and persuaded by the police, forensic experts and media outlets. Reliance on circumstantial evidence, conflicting interpretations of forensic evidence, questionable evidence by so-called experts, finding an unbiased jury after a trial by media, over zealous policing, and not all available evidence presented at the trail resulted in the guilty judgment.

To begin, much of the prosecution's
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These experts had also made assumptions and presented them to the jury as fact. One such example was the finding of six baby hairs on the Chamberlain's camera bag. The prosecution linked this with their argument, but were later told that a baby loses up to 50 hairs per day. Other forensic scientists such as Professor Cameron and Anthony Jones stated that if Azaria had indeed been grasped by the head in the mouth of the dingo, she would have been bleeding profusely, and more blood would be found in and around the tent. However, this idea was challenged by Vernon Plueckhahn, an associate of Cameron's. He claimed that the wounds in the head or neck would have been plugged by the teeth of the dingo.

However, the most influential aspect on the jury's verdict was the media. Indeed, the Chamberlain case was commonly referred to as "trial by media" - newspapers and magazines often printed rumours about the case and believed that the Chamberlains were guilty of murdering their child. Therefore it was difficult to find an impartial jury, as the case was so widely covered and mass marketed. The media began to present false ideas, such as Azaria was abnormal or deformed and the name "Azaria" means sacrifice in the wilderness. They also turned around facts to make them seem negative - Azaria was dressed in a black sacrificial robe (she was often dressed in black, because Mrs Chamberlain liked the colour), a child's coffin was

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