Chamberlin Case

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Chamberlain Case (1984). On 29 October 1982, in the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murdering her nine-week-old daughter, Azaria, by cutting her throat in the front seat of the family car at a camping area beside Uluru (Ayers Rock) in central Australia. Her husband, Michael, was convicted as an accessory. Appeals to the Federal Court and the High Court were unsuccessful. The convictions were quashed in 1988 after a judicial inquiry. Few cases have generated as much public controversy. The role of the High Court in this drama was, however, a minor one. Controversy did not stem from the novelty and significance of the doctrinal issues raised by the case but from the ‘facts’: the question of what had…show more content…
With no body, no evidence of motive and no eyewitness evidence that even vaguely incriminated the Chamberlains, the Crown case was wholly circumstantial, and supported in the main by the claims of expert witnesses to the effect that the state of Azaria’s clothing was inconsistent with a dingo attack, that there was a bloody handprint on the jumpsuit; and that substantial quantities of blood, including the blood of an infant, had been found throughout the Chamberlain car. There were many problems with the methods and findings of these witnesses, only some of which, however, could be effectively communicated to a jury in a criminal trial. The Crown invited the jury to infer that in a space of five to ten minutes, during which Lindy returned to the tent with the baby and six-year-old Aidan, she had cut Azaria’s throat and stuffed the body into Michael’s camera case while her son apparently stood by. She had then raced Aidan back to the barbecue area, where normal life was resumed, and displayed no signs of unease or distress until the opportunity presented itself of blaming a dingo for the baby’s disappearance. The Chamberlains were said to have later buried the body, then exhumed it so that the clothing could be placed in a strategic location to lend further credibility to the dingo tale. In February 1984, the High Court refused Lindy Chamberlain’s appeal by majority (Murphy and Deane dissenting). Earlier, Brennan (sitting alone) had refused her
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