Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Cry in the Night Part 3 Of 3

Incarceration

There was silence in the courtroom as the reality of Muirhead's words sank in. The dismissal of the court broke the spell. The first words heard were from Malcolm Brown, a reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald. "Bastards!" he yelled at the departing jury. Lindy's defence lawyers sat stunned. The hurt and compassion for Lindy burned in their eyes as they watched her being led from the courtroom to the cellblock downstairs. Barker sat equally stunned, red faced and bent over, unwilling to look up. The public reaction was as divided as it had been from the beginning of the case, ranging from cheers and snickers, to tears of disbelief and anger.

Lindy was numb. She watched all that went on around her but was not a part of it. Her worst fears had come to pass and she could feel nothing. In the cellblock Michael was helped to a chair. Lindy sat beside him and told him that she wanted a divorce. He wept and clung to her, finally breaking through Lindy's trance as she wept with him. The finality of the situation dawned on Michael as Lindy removed her wedding ring and placed it in her handbag for him to take with him. Lindy tried to comfort him but there was nothing she could do.

John Philips, Andy Kirkham and Stuart Tipple came to say goodbye. Their faces still white, there was little they could say, but their eyes told Lindy everything. Stuart told her he wasn't giving up.

The car, which would be taking Lindy to Berrimah prison, had arrived and Michael, who would be sentenced the following morning, would have to leave. As Lindy kissed him goodbye, Michael grabbed her arm and wouldn't let her go. As she pulled herself away from him, Lindy implored him to be strong and look after her two boys, they needed him, and she needed him to be strong. Stuart led the broken Michael away as Lindy walked out to the car and the waiting crowds.

The next morning, awakening early after a deep, exhausted sleep Lindy was reminded of the reality of her situation. It was not just a bad dream. Later Michael and Stuart arrived. Michael had received a suspended eighteen-month sentence and three years' probation for reasons of compassion toward the now motherless Chamberlain children. Lindy, as practical as ever, instructed him on matters relating to the care of the children and the organisation of their much-changed home life. Stuart had stood in the background as they talked together, amazed at Lindy's ability to remain the strength in their marriage even when faced with life imprisonment.

With the domestic issues well covered, Stuart and Lindy began making plans for the next wave of legal action. Although Lindy was confident that all would be made right in an appeal, Stuart wisely informed her of the difficulty of success. They both knew that it was a long, hard road ahead of them.

Their first challenge was to fight for Lindy's right to have her baby with her after the birth. It was not an unusual request, and a situation not new to the Berrimah prison. Despite many pleas, through all of the usual channels, no decision would be granted until almost the last minute, when Lindy was told that she would only be allowed to spend one hour with her new born baby before it would be taken from her, without visitation for twelve months. The only reason that the authorities, normally responsible for such a decision, could give was that Paul Everingham would not allow any further access.

Paul Everingham
Paul Everingham

Early on the morning of 17 November 1982, Kahlia Chamberlain was born. Michael had arrived just in time to see his daughter born. Despite orders, the doctor in charge allowed Michael and Lindy to spend three hours alone together. If there were any repercussions, he was more than happy to take full responsibility and claim he had never seen the orders that only one hour be allowed. At first Lindy had been reluctant to hold her baby, knowing she would soon be taken from her. It seemed less painful to have never held her. The nurse knew better and ceremoniously placed the naked, squirming baby on Lindy's stomach.

The day after Kahlia's birth, Lindy's bail application came through. All of the hospital staff and guards who had seen her baby taken from her were anxious to be there when Kahlia was returned to her mother's arms. With Kahlia, Lindy was returned to Berrimah prison to collect her things and be officially released. Outside, Michael, Aidan, Reagan and Lindy's parents waited eagerly to take her home with them to Cooranbong.

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