Wrongly Convicted Database Record

 

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Michael Chamberlain

 

Charge:

Murder Accessory after the crime

Sentence:

18 month suspended sentence

Years Imprisoned:

Year Crime:

1980

Year Convicted:

1982

Year Cleared:

1988

U.S. State or Country of Crime:

Australia

County or Region of Crime:

Northern Territory

City of Crime:

Uluru

Result:

Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Michael Chamberlain was co-defendant of his wife Lindy Chamberlain. Both were wrongfully convicted on October 29, 1982, of charges related to the death of their 10-week-old daughter Azaria on August 17, 1980, while the family was camping in Uluru, Australia near world-famous Ayers Rock. Lindy Chamberlain's defense was her infant daughter was carried away and killed by a dingo. The case was a media sensation in Australia, and after a coroner's inquest cleared her and her husband Michael Chamberlain of any wrongdoing, they were tried two years after their daughters disappearance. She was convicted of murder and he was convicted of being an accessory after the fact. The trial was a heavily covered by the media all over Australia. She was sentenced to life in prison and Michael was given an 18 month suspended sentence. New evidence emerged on February 2, 1986 when a remaining item of Azaria's clothing was found partially buried near Uluru in an isolated location, adjacent to a dingo lair. This was the matinee jacket which the police had maintained for years did not exist. Five days later, Lindy Chamberlain was released after almost four years of imprisonment. In 1988 a Royal Commission found the Chamberlain's convictions "unsafe," and later that year their convictions were quashed by the Northern Territories Court of Appeals. The case was the subject of the major motion picture, "A Cry In the Dark, " that featured Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain. Ms. Streep was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. Lindy's husband Michael Chamberlain fought for her exoneration. There is speculation that Lindy was prosecuted because she was a member of the Modern Adventists, an unpopular religious group in Australia. In May 1992 the Northern Territory government awarded Lindy Chamberlain compensation of AUS$680,000 for four years of wrongful imprisonment. Her husband Michael was awarded AUS$300,000 in compensation. The Northern Territory government also paid them AUS313,000 which mostly went to reimburse the Seventh Day Adventist Church for covering the couple's legal expenses during their trial. In 1995 a third Coroner's Inquest cleared the Chamberlains of any wrongdoing in their daughter's death. In August 2010, on the 30th anniversary of their daughter's death, the Chamberlains, now divorced, sought to have a fourth Coroner's Inquest held that would officially declare their daughter's cause of death was by a dingo, based on significant new evidence that dingo's are known to have attacked people and killed persons older and larger than Azaria. A fourth inquest was convened in Darwin on February 24, 2012, and on June 12, 2012 Coroner Elizabeth Morris released her finding that a dingo was responsible for Azaria's death and ordered her death certificate changed. The Chamberlain's were divorced in 1991. Michael Chamberlain died on January 9, 2017 of leukamia at the Gosford Hospital in Gosford, New South Wales, Australia."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

In 1988 the Chamberlain's convictions were quashed by the Northern Territories Court of Appeals.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

"AUS$300,000 (May 1992)"

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:

38

Age When Released:

Sex:

Skin/Ethnicity:

White

Information Source 1:

"Fourth Azaria inquest 'will set record straight', By Michael Coggan (staff), ABC (Australia), November 8, 2010"

Information Location 1:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/08/3059823.htm?section=justin

Information Source 2:

"Lindy Chamberlain's website (last accessed November 13, 2010)"

Information Location 2:

http://www.lindychamberlain.com/content/home

Information Source 3:

"Michael Chamberlain's website (last accessed November 13, 2010)"

Information Location 3:

http://www.michaelchamberlain.com.au/

Information Source 4:

"Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton historic ruling gives her peace, By Janet Fife-Yeomans, Herald Sun (Sydney, AUS), June 13, 2012"

Information Location 4:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/lindy-chamberlain-creighton-delighted-saga-is-over-after-ruling-that-a-dingo-killed-azaria/story-fnat7jnn-1226393453836

Information Source 5:

"Pair accused in baby's death paid for wrongful conviction, By AP news story, The Stars and Stripes (US Military paper), May 26, 1992, p. 8"

Information Location 5:

Book About Case:

""Evil Angels,” John Bryson, 1988, Bantam Books, pb (c)1987"

Book Information:

Book About Case (2):

"Innocence Regained - the fight to free Lindy Chamberlain" by Norman Young (1989)"

Book Information (2):

http://www.lindychamberlain.com/files/Prologue_to_%27Innocence_Regained%27.pdf

Movie About Case:

"“A Cry in the Dark,” 1988, Dir.: Fred Schepisi, Producer: Warner Brothers, Starring Meryl Streep."

Comments About Case:

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