'Dingo Ate My Baby' Case Nears Conclusion

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THE GIST

- Nine-week-old Azaria was on a camping holiday near Uluru in central Australia in August 1980 when she went missing. Her body was never found.

- Her mother insisted a dingo had snatched the baby but this was widely doubted.

The infamous case of baby Azaria Chamberlain who vanished in the Australian desert some 30 years ago could be near closure, her mother said Friday, as a new inquest heard a dingo likely took the infant.

Azaria disappeared from a tent in the desert near Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in 1980, in a case which gripped the world and sparked decades of debate in Australia over whether her mother Lindy was responsible for the baby's death.

The case has been the subject of three previous inquests and a trial which saw Lindy Chamberlain jailed, but evidence to the fourth inquest suggests that attacks by dingoes on humans are frequent and sometimes fatal.

"It gives me hope that this time that Australians will finally be warned and realize that dingoes are a dangerous animal," Azaria's mother told journalists outside the court.

"And I also hope that this will give a final finding which closes the inquest into my daughter's death which so far has been standing open and unfinished."

Nine-week-old Azaria was on a camping holiday near Uluru in central Australia in August 1980 when she went missing. Her body was never found.

Her mother insisted a dingo had snatched the baby, but her version of events was widely doubted by the Australian public.

Chamberlain was eventually convicted of murder by a jury who believed she killed the child in her car and then disposed of the body.

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She spent three years in jail, during which time she gave birth to another daughter. She was later acquitted by a Royal Commission and a third inquest, in 1995, left an open finding on the death.

Since remarried, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton -- as she is now known -- and her ex-husband Michael Chamberlain sat through Friday's hearing which they hope will see Azaria's death certificate changed to say she was killed by a dingo.

Michael Chamberlain told the court in an emotional address that people needed to be aware of the dangers of the dingoes.

"Since the loss of Azaria I have had an abiding fear and paranoia about safety around dingoes," he said, Australian Associated Press reported.

"They send a shudder up my spine. It is a hell I have to endure."

Coroner Elizabeth Morris will hand down her findings at a later date but the court was told that authorities regarded dingoes as responsible for many attacks in the years since Azaria's disappearance.

Anna Lade, a former police officer who has investigated the case for the court, said that dingoes had been responsible for many attacks causing injuries, including three deaths.

Asked whether the figure of 239 attacks causing injury to people between 1990 and 2011 was correct, Lade replied: "I am prepared to accept that."

Stuart Tipple, a lawyer who has long represented the Chamberlains, said the case still held "so many unanswered questions".

"You are never going to have a body, you are never going to be able to have a post-mortem but looking back now I have to agree that it was a dingo," he told ABC radio."I think the evidence now is such that it compels one to make that finding."