A Fair Trial? The Azaria Chamberlain Case (Australia). How did a jury of twelve people come to convict Lindy Chamberlain of her daughter's death? 24/25

Essay by wolflikemeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2007

download word file, 9 pages 4.6

On the 1st of October, 1980, Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from her campsite at Ayers Rock. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, claimed that a dingo had taken her. In the months and years that ensued, the Chamberlains faced innuendo fuelled by the media, undeserved public shame and an unfair verdict handed down by a jury who had been confused and persuaded by the police, forensic experts and media outlets. Reliance on circumstantial evidence, conflicting interpretations of forensic evidence, questionable evidence by so-called experts, finding an unbiased jury after a trial by media, over zealous policing, and not all available evidence presented at the trail resulted in the guilty judgment.

To begin, much of the prosecution's arguments in the Chamberlain trial relied heavily on circumstantial evidence. The Crown had been unable to produce a motive, a murder weapon, a confession or a body. Therefore their argument consisted mainly of speculation and assumptions.

It was difficult for the defence to retort these assumptions, given its limited resources. Instead of saying that Lindy Chamberlain did go to the car, and did kill Azaria, the prosecution was forced to suggest that she would have gone to the car, and would have used a sharp object to behead her child.

Another important aspect in the Chamberlain trial was the evidence presented by many forensic "experts", which was later proved to be false or questionable. A first example was the evidence of Dr Ken Brown, a forensic odontologist (dentist). Dr Brown claimed that the holes found in Azaria's jumpsuit were made not by the teeth of a dingo, but by scissors. Dr Brown later called upon the highly regarded London Hospital Medical College forensic team of Professor James Cameron, of forensic medicine, and Dr Bernard Sims, another forensic odontologist. Dr Cameron stated in court that he...