Editorial: Michael Chamberlain - a man of deep conviction and a fighter for the truth

Mark Chamberlain's life was forever shaped by the disappearance of his baby daughter Azaria from a tent beside Ayers Rock in August 1980. Photo / File
Mark Chamberlain's life was forever shaped by the disappearance of his baby daughter Azaria from a tent beside Ayers Rock in August 1980. Photo / File

Michael Chamberlain, the New Zealand-born pastor who died this week at 72, was a man of unshakeable faith and resolute character.

His life was forever shaped by the disappearance of his baby daughter Azaria from a tent beside Ayers Rock in August 1980. Lindy, Michael's wife, said she saw a dingo scurrying away from their shelter.

Her account was initially accepted by a coroner who found in February 1981 that a wild dog snatched the 11-week-old baby from the tent. But police and politicians had other ideas.

A second inquest a year later sent Lindy to trial for murder and Michael for being an accessory after the fact. They were convicted in October 1982. In the dock, Michael Chamberlain wept as his family was torn apart, convicted for a crime they did not commit. He had to endure abuse, disgrace and even assault.

The discovery of Azaria's jacket led to the couple being exonerated in 1987, though the Northern Territory Government clung to the dingo story and refused to wipe the records.

The strain took its toll and the couple split. Michael Chamberlain remarried, and when his new partner had a stroke in 2011, he became her fulltime carer.

It took a full three decades from the devastating loss of Azaria for a court to once and for all accept that the infant died after being taken by a dingo. The coroner who finally closed the shameful miscarriage of justice broke down as she apologised to the family.

Michael Chamberlain, who had relentlessly fought for the truth to emerge, said afterwards: "I am here to tell you that you can get justice even when you think that all is lost.''

- NZ Herald

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