Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Cry in the Night Part 2 of 3

Round Two

Contrary to Charlwood's statement to Lindy, the application to quash the findings of the first inquest did not go ahead until the 20th November 1981. It was a closed session in chambers presided over by Mr. Justice Toohey. Everingham had made the application in his capacity as Attorney General. Denis Barritt was also represented. He was concerned that the Chamberlains should be informed of the new evidence and allowed to participate in the inquiries. His lawyer lost the argument.

Late that afternoon, staff of the chief ministers office located as many journalists as they could, distributing among them documents which revealed the court order that effectively quashed the first inquest and empowered a second. While it stated the reason for this as being evidence of "persuasive new material" it gave no indication what that new material was. Chief Justice Gerry Galvin would be presiding at the second inquest.

On 14 December 1981, the second inquest began.

Appointed to assist the coroner, Gerry Galvin, was Queensland barrister Des Sturgess. Michael O'Laughlin of the Alice Springs Crown Law Department assisted. Acting on behalf of the Chamberlains was Phil Rice QC, assisted by Andrew Kirkham, a Melbourne barrister and Peter Dean.

As the courtroom filled with spectators and reporters, Rice and Kirkham waded their way through the crowd, out of the room. They were looking for Sturgess, who was found in a small anteroom, which had been converted into a conference room. They were expecting to obtain from Sturgess the outline of the evidence they would be facing in court. It was normal procedure for legal representatives involved in an inquest to be given the statements of witnesses ahead of time. Both Rice and Kirkham had been unsuccessful in procuring any information regarding the evidence that was to be presented and had complained to Sturgess before.

Sturgess claimed that he was unable to do anything about their complaints as he was acting on instructions. Whose instructions they were were not revealed. Kirkham questioned when Sturgess would be calling the Chamberlains, arguing that to have them called before hearing any evidence would be unfair. His fears were realised as Sturgess had every intention of calling the Chamberlains early in the proceedings.

Kirkham immediately rang his office in Melbourne to organise the shipment of relevant case law to him in Alice Springs. He knew that to be able to change the order of the presentation of witnesses, he would have to present a strong legal case.

The first day's proceedings were taken up with the presentation of exhibits to the coroner and the filing of documentation including statements taken before the first inquest. The second days proceedings began with the viewing of videotapes of experiments done with dingos in the Adelaide Zoo, which depicted a dingo with a dead kid goat wrapped in baby clothes. The dingo carried the goat to its den. Shots taken the next morning showed remnants of the clothing strewn around the pen. The remains of the goat were then dug up where the dingo had buried it.

The first witness to be called was Sally Lowe, who had been with Lindy and Michael at the barbecue on the night of Azaria's death. As her questioning began, Rice arose to inform the court that he had not received a copy of Mrs Lowe's statement. She was asked to stand down in order to give Mr Rice time to go over her statement.

Michael Chamberlain was called to the stand. Kirkham objected to this course of action as the new evidence, which was to be presented, had not been revealed to them. He asked that the Chamberlains be allowed to wait until all such evidence was known before they came to the stand. Sturgess, of course, disagreed with this, stating that he had authority to call witnesses in any order he wished. Galvin ruled that the Chamberlains would be given the opportunity to raise their legal arguments, so Michael stood down, to be replaced by Sally Lowe. Again Sally's testimony confirmed that Azaria had definitely been alive at the barbecue, and that she had heard her cry.

Michael was again called to the stand. Impotent to stop this as the required documentation had not arrived, Rice allowed him to be questioned, making a formal protest at the unfairness of not allowing him to wait until after the evidence. When the case law finally arrived it showed that they had a legal precedent but it was too late. On the stand, Michael found answering any questions relating to blood very difficult. Having a particularly weak stomach, anything relating to his daughter's blood caused him to become confused and distressed. Although he told the court that he was finding the line of questioning very stressful, Sturgess continued relentlessly.

The next day when Michael was again called to the stand, Rice objected to Sturgess' cross-examination of Michael on the grounds that this was an inquest not a trial and Sturgess was not the prosecutor. Galvin stated that while he could not prevent cross-examination, he gave permission for Rice to object to any questions as he needed to.

The questioning dealt most heavily with the camera bag that Michael had in the car at Ayers Rock, if there had been any accidents in the car which involved bleeding, and which scissors he had used to cut his toenails while at Ayers Rock.

Lindy Chamberlain was called to the stand shortly after two technical experts who gave evidence about the make up of Azaria's clothing and the soil found around Ayers Rock. She too was questioned about the camera bag and any accidents where bleeding may have occurred in the car. When asked about the scissors used to cut Michael's toenails she revealed that she had never said, in any of her statements, that scissors were used, as she had used nail clippers. Sturgess spent a great deal of time discussing the clothing that Lindy had worn on the night of Azaria's death, especially her tracksuit pants, her dress and running shoes. The final line of questioning was related to her conversation with Graeme Charlwood in her car on the 19th of September. Lindy pointed out to the court that Charlwood had told her that their conversation was strictly off the record and even if she had mentioned it, he would claim it never took place.

Long before any ruling to allow a second inquest had been made, the Chamberlains yellow Torana had been flown to Alice Springs. It was being held at the Alice Springs police traffic department. The court would soon be convened there, but first, Constable Metcalfe described dark staining he had found in a number of areas of the car interior.

The next witness was to play a vital role in the Crown's case against the Chamberlains. She was Mrs Joy Kuhl (pronounced Kool), a forensic biologist who often consulted for the New South Wales police in cases involving blood and other body fluids. Her evidence sent shock waves through the courtroom when she revealed that she had found foetal blood on a pair of scissors, in the car on brackets, bolt holes and hinges around the front seats, and on the carpet. She revealed that the blood would have been at least twelve months old but was most definitely foetal blood belonging to a child under six months of age.

Kuhl continued her testimony at the traffic department, pointing to the areas on the front seats, which had been removed from the car, on which she had found foetal blood. She also showed areas on the console and around the dash where more blood had been found. To demonstrate her point she took a scraping from a piece of vinyl that had been removed from the seat and placed it on a piece of filter paper. When she added a chemical to it the paper turned turquoise. Which, according to Kuhl, indicated the presence of blood.

The court was moved back to the courthouse and further technical witnesses called. Meanwhile, Professor James Cameron was making his arrival at Alice Springs airport.

The fifth day saw Dr Kenneth Brown on the stand. As he began to explain the difference between animal and human bite marks, Rice quickly rose to point out that Brown's evidence had been discounted during the first inquest because Brown was unqualified to examine bite marks in clothing. He also criticised the experiments carried out at the Adelaide Zoo as being unscientific.

The objections were overruled and Brown continued his testimony that did not appear any different to his previous statements. To answer questions from Rice, he explained that he had taken the clothes to London merely to learn from greater experts how he could have carried out his investigations more thoroughly.

Another expert witness, who had appeared in the first inquest as well, was Dr Andrew Scott. He added to his first testimony, that he had found run marks of blood around the neck area of the jumpsuit. He now believed that it was indicative that the clothing had been held in an upright position. Reference was also made to a comment he had made in the first inquest that the bloodstains on Reagan's parka would be consistent with the wearer carrying a bleeding child.

Sergeant Frank Cocks told the court that the jumpsuit Azaria had been wearing had small tufts of fabric in the area where it had been cut. Similar tufts had been found on the floor of the car and in the camera bag. Experiments on cutting clothing with scissors produced the same tufts; whereas the damage caused by the dingo in the Adelaide Zoo experiment showed none of these tufts. Upon questioning by Rice, he agreed that there were no signs of blood on the tufts in the camera bag or the car. When asked whether the scissors found in the car had been used to cut the jumpsuit during the testing, he admitted that they had not, as their first attempt to do so had caused the scissors to fall apart. They had in fact used a larger, sturdier pair of scissors.

The final piece of evidence for the day was from Dr. Anthony Jones, a forensic scientist from Darwin. He described how he had discovered staining on a support for the dashboard structure on the front passenger side of the vehicle. He had cut out a section of the panel and tested particles of staining which showed a positive response to blood. The formation of the staining was characteristic of spurting blood, probably from a small artery. Mr Sturgess asked whether this would have happened while the heart was still beating, to which Jones replied in the affirmative.

The next day, a Saturday, the court would move to Ayers Rock, despite objections by the Chamberlains that it was their Sabbath day. Senior Constable Frank Morris, who had since been transferred to Alice Springs, led the coroner on a tour of all of the sites relevant to the case, just as in the first inquest. After two and a half hours, the tour ended in the carpark of the motel where the Chamberlains had stayed when the search was called off. Rice asked whether the Chamberlains car had been open or shut but Morris could not recall.

A queue had begun forming outside of the courthouse as early as nine o'clock on Monday, 21st December 1981. By 9.30 am, the court was full. Rice once again protested that people were allowed to sit in the jury box. Coroner Galvin agreed but would allow them to stay as it was an open court and the public should not be denied entry. He changed this decision when it was later brought to his attention that the jury box being full gave the appearance that a trial, and not an inquest, was taking place.

The reason for such a crowd was the first witness. Dr. James Cameron was called to the stand. The list of his credentials had been too lengthy to be read aloud so Sturgess handed Galvin a typewritten list, which clearly established his ability to give testimony in the case.

Before he was able to begin his testimony, Rice again protested that he had not been given a copy of Cameron's report because Sturgess had been instructed not to do so. He asked that a copy should be forwarded to him as soon as possible. Rice and Sturgess continued to raise their respective arguments for and against the granting of the request until Galvin intervened and asked for a final decision. Sturgess relinquished his stand and agreed to provide Rice with the report as requested.

Cameron told the court that he had been given a white jump suit, a white singlet that was turned inside out, a plastic nappy, two booties and the skull of a dingo, by Dr. Kenneth Brown on Monday 8 June 1981.

Mr Sims assisted him in his investigations. He firstly determined that the bloodstains on the jumpsuit were of a type consistent with what would be expected of a child of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain and that it was reasonable to assume that the blood was Azaria Chamberlain's.

After dressing a child of similar size and weight to Azaria Chamberlain in a jumpsuit, he determined that, based on extensive experience dealing with cases of domestic dog attacks, there would not have been enough area of skin exposed to allow the neck to be grasped without causing damage to the jumpsuit. Bleeding had occurred while the jumpsuit was done up and the damage done to the neck of the jumpsuit would have occurred while the child was still bleeding or shortly after. The cuts in the jumpsuit were consistent with a cutting instrument such as scissors or a knife.

His examination of the jumpsuit revealed that there was no evidence of the garment being dragged, which in his experience with domestic dogs, led him to believe that it could not have been a member of the canine family, except a very large dog such as a Great Dane. In regard to the presence of saliva on the jumpsuit, he was relying completely on Dr Brown's report, which stated that there was none present, and which again was inconsistent with his experience with dog attacks. He then admitted that he had not had any experience with dingoes but assumed that they would be similar to that of dogs.

Cameron explained that, by using a special photographic technique known as ultra-violet fluorescent photography, he had been able to determine the areas of blood staining as opposed to sand, as the blood shows up much darker than anything else. From these photographs, he was able to determine that the blood flowed all around the neck at one time and not from separate areas as would be expected in a dog attack.

The same technique was used on the singlet, revealing that the singlet had definitely been worn around the correct way at the time of death, as the pattern of blood staining on the singlet matched that of the jumpsuit only when right side out.

In regard to the damage done to the jumpsuit, Cameron stated that the nature of the cuts and tears and how they were bloodstained suggested to him that a sharp instrument caused them. Since talking with Sergeant Cocks, he was willing to be more precise and state that they were most probably caused by scissors. The lack of bloodstains, saliva and tissue around the area of damage on the arm was far more consistent with the fabric having been cut than with a dog attack.

Upon examination of the dirt stains on the garment, Cameron concluded that the staining must have occurred while the child was still in the garment as it was consistently spread. Sturgess then asked him "So assuming that the garment has been buried, your opinion is that the body of the baby was in the garment at the time it was buried?" Cameron agreed.

Stains that the professor had found in the underarm region of the suit, when photographed using ultra-violet fluorescence photography, resembled a handprint of a small adult. Using a magnifying glass he attempted to point out to counsel and the coroner the various parts of the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger. As the markings were not apparent to them, Cameron pointed out that to the untrained eye it was difficult to follow the evidence. Sturgess then asked him to state the extent of his experience and practice with dealing with post-mortem examinations such as this. Cameron stated that he had carried out as many as two thousand such examinations a year, and had been doing so for over twenty years.

Using a doll, Cameron showed the court the position in which he believed an adult had held the child with blood stained hands. As the blood had been the same type as on the rest of the suit, it was safe to assume that the hands had been wet with Azaria's blood as the person held her upright.

When Rice questioned Cameron about the handprint, he would not say that it was definitely a hand, just that it was consistent with a hand. In regard to fingerprints, he agreed that they had not been able to detect any fingerprints at all, on any part of the garment.

Cameron's colleague, Raymond Ruddick, was next in the stand to further explain the photographic techniques used by Professor Cameron.

The final witness for the day was Professor Malcolm Chaikin, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and head of the School of Textile Technology at the University of New South Wales. He told the court that on Monday, 26 October 1981, he was shown the jumpsuit and singlet used in the Adelaide Zoo experiment. In addition, he was shown a number of tufts of material vacuumed from the Chamberlains' car. By comparing the fabric of Azaria's clothing, those from the Adelaide Zoo experiment and a garment which he had used scissors to cut, he was able to determine that the cuts and tears in Azaria's clothing more closely resembled that of the clothing he had cut with scissors. He had based this decision on the state of the fabric on the cut edges and the existence of tufts of fabric, which came away from it when cut. The fabric tufts found in the camera bag, and some of those found in the car were consistent with the fabric in Azaria's clothing.

In regard to the hole found in Azaria's singlet, Chaikin conducted an experiment to determine whether or not it was possible for a tooth to penetrate both pieces of fabric and leave only a hole in the singlet underneath. To do this Chaikin placed a canine tooth into the finger of a specimen holder while having the material stretched out underneath. In this way he had been able to put a hole in the singlet without any mark being left in the jumpsuit. In the next stage of the experiment, Chaikin placed the flesh of a freshly-killed rabbit under the singlet and jumpsuit material. Although the tooth had been embedded through the fabric and into the rabbit, he had not been able to put a hole in the singlet or the jumpsuit, as the fabric was no longer under tension.

Rice asked Chaikin whether or not he had used the incisor tooth of a dingo, to which he said no. He also agreed with Rice that if a dingo's tooth could create a cutting action then he would have to say that it could have caused the damage to Azaria's jumpsuit and he would not discount the possibility that the hole in the singlet was in fact caused by a dingo tooth.

On Tuesday 22 December 1981, Mrs. Joan Hansell from Mt Isa took the stand. She told the court that in August 1980 she had worked as an assistant at a dry-cleaners in Mt Isa. She recalled that Jennifer Richards had brought several items, including a track suit, into the shop to be dry-cleaned. Mrs Richards had pointed out stains on the leg of the tracksuit pants. She said that she had attempted to remove the stains with a chemical designed to remove bloodstains. It didn't work so she sent the garment to be dry-cleaned, after which time all but two of the spots were successfully removed. The bloodstains, she said were from the knees down.

Hansell also recalled that Mr. Chamberlain had brought in a sleeping bag to be cleaned. When he returned several days later, he asked whether all of the bloodstains had been removed. When they looked at the bag, there were still some stains on it. Michael asked her to try again. Before she could do so, the police had come in and collected the sleeping bag. Mr. Chamberlain had also asked about a child's parka, but it had not been left with her at the shop. She stated that the Chamberlains were regular customers who had always been very fastidious about their clothing, and at this time had not tried to disguise or conceal anything from her.

Later in the day, Mrs Myrna Beaman, a presser at the same dry-cleaners, stated that she had seen small blood spots on the tracksuit pants, below the knee, and on a sleeping bag.

Lindy's close friend Jennifer Richards, now known as Ransom because of marriage, testified that she had taken the tracksuit pants to the dry-cleaners along with a number of other items. She was not absolutely sure, but she thought that at the time she had assumed the stains on the pants were blood. Although she had not seen blood on Lindy's running shoes, she had been told about it. She had also seen blood on one of the boy's parkas, which had been collected by the police after Lindy called them.

Bernard Sims, a lecturer in forensic odontology in London, was the last of the British forensic team to be heard during this second inquest. He explained to the court that his work concerned the study of dental evidence and its presentation in court. While most of his work related to human beings he had some experience of dog bites in flesh and clothing. He believed that a dingo was typical of a basic carnivore of the dog family in its dental structure. He explained to the court that Azaria's clothing showed no evidence upon it, namely tooth marks and saliva, to show that there was involvement with any member of the canine family. In stark contrast to this, the clothing used in the Adelaide Zoo experiment showed puncture marks typical of canine teeth, while the singlet had been considerably damaged.

Sims believed that it was highly unlikely that a member of the canine family could have carried a baby of that weight such a long distance without it dragging along the ground, it should have also had signs of vegetation embedded in the fabric.

Under questioning from Rice, Sims admitted that he had never seen a dingo gripping a small baby by the head, nor had he seen a dog do it either. For a dog to do that it would need to go beyond the limit of it's jaw, but he conceded that it was plausible that it could hold part of the head or grip the throat or neck. When Rice asked whether Sims was aware that the dingo skull he had seen was actually over a hundred years old, Sturgess interjected that it was not, although he agreed that it did come from a museum. Sturgess again argued when Rice asked whether Sims was aware that dingoes had been known to bite through a metal chain. Sturgess discounted this information from a Dingo Foundation report as the report had said the dingo had broken, not bitten the chain. Sims disagreed with Rice that the damage done to Azaria's jumpsuit was basically similar to the clothing used in the Adelaide Zoo experiment. He did agree that it was common for dogs to carry their pups by the neck, but in this situation there should have been drag marks on the feet of the jumpsuit, therefore the cuts in the neck of the jumpsuit could not have been caused by the dingo carrying the baby by the collar of the jumpsuit.

The last witness to be called that day was Detective Sergeant Graeme Charlwood of the Darwin CIB (Criminal Investigations Bureau). The press was particularly interested in what Charlwood would reveal regarding his conversation with Lindy Chamberlain who had been mentioned earlier during Lindy's testimony.

Charlwood proceeded to tell the court of his involvement in the case from the outset because there had been suspicions about the possibility of foul play in the case. He described a three and a half day search conducted in the area around the campsite, the sand dunes and Ayers Rock which had failed to disclose anything which might relate to the baby's disappearance. He then described his visit to the Chamberlain home in Mt Isa approximately six weeks later where he claimed he was shown items of clothing with blood stains and the space blanket with some small holes in it, which in his opinion appeared to be just normal wear marks. He listed the items, which had been taken from the Chamberlains' home, which seemed relevant to the investigations.

The court was then told of the re-opening of the investigation after the first inquest and his involvement in it having commenced on 21 August 1981, culminating in the granting of a search warrant by a Sydney magistrate on Friday 18 September 1981.

Charlwood went on to describe how on the next day he went to the Chamberlains' home in Cooranbong to complete a thorough search of the premises and collect items of relevance to the investigation. The search ended at 12.25 p.m. While Lindy went to get a babysitter for the boys, the media arrived and Michael agreed to go with another officer to the Toronto police station for an interview.

As Charlwood prepared to tell the court of the events surrounding his conversation with Lindy Chamberlain, Phil Rice rose to make an objection. He stated that until this morning when he had read the detective's statement, he had not known that the Chamberlains' had not been informed of the contents of the warrant — which was a very grave offence — and that all questioning of the Chamberlains had been done with the knowledge that they had been advised not to answer any questions without legal representation being present.

Rice also questioned the legality of the police arriving at the Chamberlains' home with no prior discussions with, or notification to their legal representatives who were already appointed by the Chamberlains since the first inquest. He pointed out that the Chamberlains had cooperated with the police investigations and done anything requested of them. Rice asked that the coroner exclude the rest of the evidence, as there were good reasons why the protection of the law should be accorded to his clients.

The coroner expressed to Sturgess that he was inclined to agree with Mr. Rice. Sturgess argued that the coroner did not have judicial discretion to refuse to admit evidence, this was only applicable in a trial situation. The arguments continued and court adjourned before a settlement was reached. Counsel agreed to work things out privately that evening.

The final session was held on 23 December 1981, opening with the agreement between Rice and Sturgess that while details of the conversation between Charlwood and Lindy Chamberlain would be tendered as evidence to the court, it would not be read out.

Rice had only a few questions for Charlwood concerning his tape recording of conversations with Lindy or Michael Chamberlain. Charlwood stated that he had attempted to record them at their house on the 19th September but it had not been audible. He also said that he had intended to tape the conversation with Lindy in the car but for some reason the tape had not recorded at all. He agreed that he had not informed the Chamberlains of his intention of recording them at any time.

Before he closed the hearing, Galvin stated that the inquest would recommence on 1 February 1982. He reminded the court that Mrs Joy Kuhl was still carrying out her examination of the camera bag and a divers knife. Mr. Sturgess and Mr. Rice were expected to be making written submissions.

On 1 February 1982, the inquest resumed. Joy Kuhl returned to the stand to inform the court of the findings of tests carried out on the camera bag during the Christmas recess. She recounted in great detail, the testing procedure and the locations on the camera bag where her tests showed positive reactions, indicating the presence of fetal blood inside the camera bag.

Kirkham began his cross-examination of Kuhl at eleven o'clock that morning and did not conclude until midday the following day. He opened his questioning by asking Kuhl to further clarify the nature of the tests used to determine the existence of blood. She had used orthotolidine. Kirkham wanted to know if the same reaction could be gained from other substances. She explained that a blood reaction was very, very distinctive especially in the hands of an experienced operator like herself. She then had to admit that it was possible to occasionally get the same reaction from milk and child's vomit. When asked by Kirkham whether she had done any tests to preclude the presence of such substances in the camera bag, she said no, as there had not been enough matter present to carry out such tests.

"So in the circumstances, you are prepared to assume that it must have been blood?" asked Kirkham. Kuhl defended herself by explaining that she had explained in her report that while she had obtained a blood reaction she had not been able to prove that there was a presence of blood or determine the species. Kirkham explained to her that he had not received a copy of her report, although he was sure it would be supplied to him at some time, so he would need to rely on her worksheets. He painstakingly walked Kuhl through every item on those worksheets, questioning her thoroughly and repeatedly on every point. The Chamberlains' defense counsel realized that there would be a trial. By questioning Kuhl extensively, now it gave them wide opportunities for cross-examination of her evidence in the future.

On February 2 1982, in his summation, Sturgess expressed his belief that, while the evidence was mostly circumstantial, it strongly indicated that Lindy and Michael Chamberlain had both been involved in the death of their daughter Azaria. He believed that Azaria had been killed in the family car by Lindy Chamberlain between six and fifteen minutes after she left the barbecue area carrying Azaria. Blood was spilt on a 'person or persons' in the car and deposited in the tent. He suggested that Lindy raised the alarm about the dingo and told her husband of the events some time after that. During the period of the search Lindy and Michael buried Azaria's body, dug it up later, removed the clothes and left them where they were later found by a tourist. The baby's body was probably kept in the camera bag at some stage in the events.

Coroner Galvin believed that the evidence was mostly circumstantial but felt that if properly instructed, a jury could arrive at a guilty verdict.

Lindy was charged with the murder of Azaria Chamberlain and committed to trial. Michael was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Bail was granted at $5000.

The trial was set for April and the press was instructed to make no further comment, as it would be sub judice.

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