'You can't get away from it'. The person Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton struggles to forgive

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain's nine-week-old daughter Azaria went missing from a camp site at Uluru in 1980. Photo / File
Lindy and Michael Chamberlain's nine-week-old daughter Azaria went missing from a camp site at Uluru in 1980. Photo / File

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton has been severely wronged by a lot of people.

But, according to her, it's her ex-husband Michael Chamberlain she has struggled most to forgive.

Lindy, who was wrongfully jailed for life over the murder of her baby Azaria after a dingo snatched her from a tent, was a guest speaker at the National Christian Family Conference in Sydney on Monday.

Lindy told the audience she had fought not to "get stuck on bitterness and resentment".

"You can't get away from it. It sleeps with you at night. It goes to the bathroom with you. It showers with you. It has parties with friends with you. It's always there. You need to choose your battles wisely. You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to. A fight without a foe - where's the battle?

Young mother Lindy Chamberlain with baby Azaria in 1980.
Young mother Lindy Chamberlain with baby Azaria in 1980.

"If you're holding the anger ... you're not hurting them at all. They're succeeding well beyond their wildest dreams. It's you that's dying."

Lindy was asked who she had most struggled to forgive.

Was it the NT Police who pushed for a conviction? The media who blamed her? The judicial system that failed her? The public who wanted her blood?

"No, it's my ex-husband," Lindy replied.

"That's private."

Members of the Northern Territory Police, media, the general public and a jury, screamed bloody murder when Lindy and Michael's nine-week-old daughter Azaria went missing from a camp site at Uluru in 1980.

A dingo had crept into the tent where the newborn and her little brother slept and taken off with her in its mouth. Azaria's body has never been found. A few days later, Azaria's torn jumpsuit and clothes were found near the rock.

Lindy yesterday revealed she never let public opinion affect her.

"People often get involved in things and take sides with no knowledge," she said.

"I've never felt I had to carry that pain. That's their responsibility. God and I knew the truth and that was enough for me. Because all the way through I felt absolutely positive that at some stage He would make sure that it all came out right."

In December 1980, an inquest found that a dingo had killed Azaria but someone unknown had later interfered with her clothes. A second inquest was ordered and the Coroner committed Lindy to trial.

Lindy, who maintained that a dingo stole her baby, was found guilty of first degree murder and Michael an accessory after the fact in 1982.

Lindy was sentenced to life in prison. Michael was given an 18 month suspended sentence.

Lindy languished first in Mulawa Women's Prison and then in Darwin's Berrimah Jail until a matinee jacket Azaria was wearing on the night she went missing was found at Uluru in 1986.

The discovery supported the Chamberlains' defence case.

Lindy was released from prison, and her life sentence was remitted by the Northern Territory Government.

"So did I like to go to prison for something I haven't done? The answer is 'no' with capitals," Lindy told the conference on Monday.

"On the other hand would I change what I've gone through if I could no longer keep the lessons that I'd earned through that experience? The answer again is 'no' in capital letters.

"Because what I've learnt is invaluable and I wouldn't swap that because that's made me who I am today."

Lindy Chamberlain pictured in 2000. Photo / Supplied
Lindy Chamberlain pictured in 2000. Photo / Supplied

Lindy and Michael divorced in 1991.

The Supreme Court of Darwin quashed all convictions and declared the Chamberlain's innocent in 1998.

Lindy yesterday recalled just one person who had publicly apologised since she was exonerated.

"Various media people said I was wrong but never came to me and said that, except a Channel 10 reporter, who came to me and said 'I thought you guys were guilty'," she said.

"Investigative reporters are far better finding things out than the cops are. He tried to prove it and in doing so proved the opposite.

"He said 'I realised I was dead wrong, I apologise for that and now I'll be doing everything I can to undo the damage I've done'.

"That meant a lot to see someone who was willing to change.

"But did it make a difference to me? No, because that was his journey. It's like mud, you can wash it off."

It wasn't until June 2012 that a coroner made a final ruling that a dingo took Azaria Chamberlain.
It wasn't until June 2012 that a coroner made a final ruling that a dingo took Azaria Chamberlain.

It wasn't until 2012 that Azaria's death was officially ruled a result of her being taken by a dingo.

Lindy and Michael fronted the Supreme Court in Darwin together and embraced outside. It had taken 32 years, four inquests, a trial, jail time, an exoneration, and a whole lot of heartache - but the case into Azaria's death was finally closed.

"Time is going to pass anyway, you can't save it, you can't bank it, you can only spend it. It took me 32 years fighting to get justice," Lindy said.

"In the process we got to rewrite many of Australia's obsolete laws.

"We need to know when we're knocked down it's important not to stay down. Roll with the punches and bounce back."

The psychological trauma of losing a child and being wrongfully convicted of murder has undoubtedly come at an immeasurable cost to the Chamberlains.

Their other children, who were separated from Lindy while she was in prison, have also suffered.

"When you get a scar it hurts like hell but it eventually heals," she said.

"You've always got it but it's no longer painful."

Lindy said in order to be happy she had to forgive, focus on positives and let the past go.

"It's not what happens that counts. It's how you choose to (deal) with what happens," she said.

"You can choose if you're going to live with anger, regret and revenge and miserably think yourself a victim. Or you can choose to be a hero in your own life and forgive the past and move on.

"It doesn't happen immediately. Sometimes I go back and have to remind myself to start all over again. It isn't easy."

- news.com.au

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