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Azaria dingo claim not believed: docs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/01/2017

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton arrives at Darwin Magistrates Court for the first day of the fourth coronial inquest into the disappearance of her daughter, Azaria Chamberlain, more than 30 years ago, February 24, 2012 in Darwin. © Daniel Hartley-Allen/Getty Images Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton arrives at Darwin Magistrates Court for the first day of the fourth coronial inquest into the disappearance of her daughter, Azaria Chamberlain, more than 30 years ago, February 24, 2012 in Darwin. Lindy Chamberlain's baby Azaria. © Getty Images Lindy Chamberlain's baby Azaria.

Authorities didn't believe Lindy Chamberlain's story that a dingo stole her baby Azaria, but they didn't believe she should have gone to jail for murder, newly released cabinet documents have revealed.

The former New Zealand woman who famously shouted "the dingo's got my baby" after Azaria's disappearance on a family camping trip in Uluru was jailed for the murder of her nine-week-old daughter after a trial that gripped Australia.

At the time of the disappearance in August 1980 Azaria's bloodied jumpsuit and nappy were found half buried near a dingo's den but a jury accepted prosecutors claims Mrs Chamberlain killed her daughter with scissors in the family car, then staged a dingo attack.

But it was the discovery of Azaria's matinee jacket six years later that changed things.

By then Mrs Chamberlain had served three years of a life sentence. Her then husband Michael Chamberlain, who was found guilty of being an accessory, had been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

"(It) opened up a whole can of worms ... we had to find some way to get the whole case reviewed," former Northern Territory chief minister Stephen Hatton told the ABC.

In this Feb. 2, 1982, file photo, Michael and Lindy Chamberlain leave a courthouse in Alice Springs, Australia. "The dingo's got my baby!" With those panicked words, the mystery of Azaria Chamberlain's disappearance in the Australian Outback. © Getty Images In this Feb. 2, 1982, file photo, Michael and Lindy Chamberlain leave a courthouse in Alice Springs, Australia. "The dingo's got my baby!" With those panicked words, the mystery of Azaria Chamberlain's disappearance in the Australian Outback.

"We didn't believe the dingo story, but we didn't believe Lindy should be in jail for murder, we thought it was a harsh outcome."

New legislation was introduced to allow for a review with a wide scope "given other doubts and questions in the minds of some of the public", according to then NT attorney-general Marshall Perron in the cabinet documents released for the first time on January 1.

Most of the evidence at trial related to Azaria's clothing, but after the jacket was found it was decided its condition might shed further light on the baby girl's disappearance.

A review eventually led to both Lindy and Michael Chamberlain being pardoned in 1987.

After a fourth inquest in 2012 the cause of death on Azaria's death certificate was changed to "the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo".

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