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Azaria death sparks new inquest

Published: 10:27AM Sunday December 18, 2011 Source: ONE News

More than three decades after Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from Central Australia, a new inquest has been announced to finally try to discover what happened.

The baby girl's father, Michael Chamberlain, says the news is a milestone and he's pleasantly surprised.

"I'm sure this time it will be the ultimate verdict which we've been looking for," Dr Chamberlain told ABC Radio today.

The inquest will look at new evidence suggesting a dingo attacked Azaria.

The Northern Territory government has confirmed Coroner Elizabeth Morris will conduct the inquest, which will start on February 24 and represents the final legal chapter in the case.

Azaria was nine weeks-old when she disappeared from her parents' tent at Uluru (Ayers Rock) in August 1980, sparking court cases that saw her mother Lindy Chamberlain sentenced to life in jail in 1982.

Mr Chamberlain was given a suspended sentence after being found guilty of being an accessory after the fact.

The couple were both exonerated by a royal commission in 1987 and subsequently had their convictions quashed, although an inquest in 1995 delivered an open finding.

Mrs Chamberlain, now Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton after remarrying, has always maintained that she saw a dingo leaving her tent on the night Azaria went missing.

The claims were greeted sceptically by many Australians at the time of the disappearance and the saga was captured in the movie Evil Angels.

In a short statement today the NT Coroner's office said it was reopening the inquest into Azaria's death after information provided by the girl's parents in relation to dingo attacks on infants and young children.

"This information was then further investigated by a coronial investigator," the statement said.

"It is as a result of this investigation that the coroner has made the decision to reopen the inquest," it said.

No witnesses will be called at the inquest, which will re-examine previous statements and investigations, as well as fresh submissions.

NT barrister John Lawrence SC, who was part of the crown legal team during the royal commission, said that during earlier proceedings there was no evidence of dingoes having attacked other people.

"Now there is," he said.

In April 2001 nine-year-old Clinton Gage was attacked and killed by dingoes at Fraser Island and in 2007 a four-year-old girl was severely bitten by dingoes, also at Fraser Island.

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