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Coroner: Dingo snatched baby in 1980

June 12, 2012 at 1:01 AM

DARWIN, Australia, June 12 (UPI) -- An Australian coroner ruled Tuesday that Azaria Chamberlain, who would have turned 32 this week, was taken by a dingo near Ayers Rock in 1980.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, who spent four years in prison after she was convicted of killing her daughter, sat between her current husband, Rick Creighton, and Azaria's father, Michael Chamberlain, as the decree was read, The Australian reported. The coroner, Elizabeth Morris, almost broke down as she extended her condolences to the parents and to Azaria's brother, Aidan.

"I'm so sorry for your loss," Morris said."Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child."

Michael Chamberlain said he had often been warned he would never get justice in a Northern Territories court and called Morris "courageous and independent."

"No longer will Australia be able to say that dingoes are not dangerous and only attack if provoked," Chamberlain-Creighton said.

The couple were camping near Ayers Rock, or Uluru, when Azaria, 2 months old, vanished from their tent. Her mother was convicted of murder in 1982 while her husband was given a suspended sentence as an accessory.

The convictions were overturned after the baby's jacket was found in 1986, supporting the Chamberlains' story. The case became the subject of a 1988 movie, "A Cry in the Dark," starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neil.

The inquest was the fourth in the case. The first, in 1981, ended in a finding that Azaria had probably been taken by a dingo; the second -- also in 1981 -- was held because police were not satisfied with the first verdict, and found the child was deliberately killed; and a third, in 1995, said the cause of death was unknown.

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