Photos of the torn fabric of Azaria's jumpsuit

Coroner Gavin's Findings in the Second Inquest into the Death of Azari Chamberlain

(Contained in a letter marked "personal and confidential" and sent to Peter Tiffin,
Crown Prosecutor)

February 1982

"I find Azaria Chantal Loren Chamberlain came to her death at Ayers Rock on 17th August 1980.

Cause of death was extensive and fatal wound or wounds to the neck.

I now propose to make findings in relation to certain categories of evidence under the following headings:

I. Deceased's Clothing

II. Evidence of Blood in Tent and in the Car

III. Whose Blood was involved

IV. The Black Vinyl Bag

V. Injuries which Caused Death

VI. Presence of Dingos

            VII. Tracksuit Trousers Belonging to Mrs. Chamberlain


I find:

1. The clothing of the deceased child had been buried prior to its finding and probably contained the body of the child when buried.

2. Soil type of a PH found on the clothing is consistent with the PH of the soil at the camp and also with the consistency of the soil in clothing and at the site and is inconsistent with the type of soil and PH in the area in which the clothing was found.

3. There .is no evidence on the clothing of dragging or catching nor the presence of saliva. It was argued that the absence of saliva was not remarkable as a witness gave evidence of heavy rain in the area. J find that the clothing was not subjected to heavy rain as there is evidence that such heavy rain would have adversely affected the blood staining on the clothing and this is not the case. This lack of dragging and presence of saliva ;s inconsistent with a dingo carrying the body a distance of some four kilometers.

4. The jump suit was completely done up by studs to the neck which remained closed while the child was bleeding.

5. After the blood had dried the two top studs were undone prior to the clothing being buried whilst containing the body of the child.

6. There is evidence provided by fluorescent examination to suggest the presence of a palm print of a small adult right hand and some evidence of the presence of a left hand caused by a person holding the child when that person's hands were contaminated with wet blood.

7. Single holes or indentations which appear in the clothing could be consistent with teeth marks of an animal but the absence of tissue stains in conjunction with those holes make it inconsistent with an animal holding the body of the child. The evidence clearly establishes that the clothing has been cut and in places tom by a person or persons and in particular the cut on the collar was made after the blood staining had occurred. It was argued that one area of damage in the general area of the elbow may be consistent with an animal tearing, but the evidence is very strong that such a tearing by an animal would be inconsistent because of the lack of evidence of the presence of tissue staining which would inevitably be involved if an animal had caused the damage to the clothing.

8.Vegetation contamination on the clothing is inconsistent with vegetation found at the scene and inconsistent with the likely contamination, which would have occurred if the clothing with a body in it had been carried by an animal. This supports the view that the vegetation contamination was caused by human intervention.

9. The clothes as found were not strewn around the area and this is inconsistent with an animal being responsible for their placement.

10. The clothing was found adjacent to a path near the base of a rock and adjacent to a dingo's lair.

11. Scissors were found in the Chamberlain's car on which there was present human foetal blood staining on the cutting edge and on the hinge areas. There is evidence to support that when comparable scissors are used to cut through blood that blood would be deposited on the cutting edge. An inference can be drawn that these scissors were used to cut the deceased's clothing. I place no weight on the argument that the subject scissors were unable to cut clothing as this was after the stud had been removed from the scissors to enable certain tests.


The evidence in relation to the clothing is consistent with an attempt to simulate a dingo attack on a child by person or persons who recovered the buried body, removed the clothing, damaged it by cutting, rubbed it in vegetation and deposited the clothes for later recovery. Such deposition is indicative that the deposition was made with the knowledge that dingos were in the area.

In addition, there is no evidence to positively support the involvement of a dingo in the taking of the child, the carrying of the body some four Kilometers and removing the body from the area where the clothes were found.


A) The tent

1. No blood was found on the inside of the tent.

2. On the outside of the tent as it is being faced there is:

a). A spray pattern on the right hand sidewall. This spray pattern ran for some two to three feet and contained a small amount of blood. There is evidence that this is not human blood.
b). Two small drops were found on the left hand side rear outside of the tent.

 3.Articles in the tent found to have blood:

 a). Each of the pink and purple babies blankets had small drops caused by a very small quantity of blood.
 b). Mr. Chamberlain's sleeping bag had eleven small blood spots of pin head size and these were found on both the upper underneath part of the bag.
c). Reagan's parka contained thin smears of blood on the right hand side of the hood, the right front and the left front and both sleeves. d). An area of blood of approximate size of four centimeters in diameter was found on the cover of a tent mattress, which stained through to the actual rubber mattress.
 e). Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain claim that several other items in the tent were also found to be blood stained, but on examination by Dr Scott this could not be supported. In fact, two items, namely, army bush hats which were said to be blood contaminated were 'not to be so contaminated. The evidence regarding the tracksuit will be considered later, it is clear on the evidence that no significant staining was found on the items made available to Dr Scott for examination.
f). Constable Morris on the night of the incident inspected the interior of the tent using a torch. This revealed "a couple of spots of blood on a couple of blankets and a sleeping bag in the tent".
g). Mrs. Lowe gave evidence of observing a pool of blood on the floor of the tent of the size of approximately a bread and butter plate. There is no objective support for this view and it is quite contrary to the other observations and objective findings. I am unable to find on the evidence that such a pool of blood was present.

B) Evidence of Blood in the Car.

1. Evidence of the presence of foetal blood was found in the following:

a) On the chamois and under the lid 'of its container.
 b) On the carpet in front of the driver's seat.
 c) On the yellow towel found near the rear spare wheel.
 d). A considerable quantity was found adjacent to and on a coin on the floor well under the front passenger seat and a flow of blood on the hinge of the right hand side of the passenger seat running d6wn to the seat support and onto the floor of the well under the carpet.
 e). An arterial spurt on the underside of the dashboard on the passenger's side.

). A pair of scissors from the console.
 g). Extensive traces of blood were found in many places over the inside of the motorcar on vinyl surfaces and door handles within the vehicle.

2. It is a reasonable inference that these findings are the remains of a more considerable bloodstain and that attempts have been made to clean up all visible blood. .It is clear on the evidence, a quite considerable quantity of blood was needed to bring about the flow of blood staining under the hinge cover, on the hinge and down the leg to collect in the floor well.

3. I find that the blood staining of the tent and its contents is very minor compared with the extensive staining inside the motor vehicle. Save for the large stain on the mattress, the evidence of blood in the tent is consistent with the secondary staining obtained from a. person contaminated with blood moving inside the tent and on the articles being placed at a later time inside the motor car.

4. I reject the argument based on blood staining on the baby's clothes and articles in the tent that the injuries were caused by a dingo within the child's basket and blood contamination caused by the child bleeding while being taken through the tent.


1. The blood in the car was found to be from one year to two years old at the time of examination.

2. The blood on the jump suit was group 0 Hp 2-1 PGM 1 and is consistent with blood of the children from the union of Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain.

3. Because of denaturation and contamination. a full grouping could not be made of the blood in the car, however, there is evidence that the blood from the passenger’s seat indicated that it was probably Group 0 PGM, 1. Haptoglobin grouping could not be determined.

4. Human foetal blood was found at several places in the vehicle and its contents. Cross- examination of Mrs. Kuhl does not in my view lead me to say that her tests were not proper or that they may contain an error. I find on the evidence that there was human foetal blood present from a child not more than six months old.

5. The car was in the Chamberlain's possession from almost new in December 1977 and no other possible explanation for the presence of human foetal blood was given by those persons in evidence at the inquest.

6. The age of the other children is such that their blood would not contain foetal hemoglobin.

I find that the blood in the car was:

1.The blood of Azaria Chamberlain

2. The presence of the arterial spurt and the flow pattern on the seat hinge indicate that the deceased was bleeding heavily when within the, car. It is consistent therefore that the greater volume of blood in the car as compared with the tent means that the staining of articles in the tent was of secondary transfer.


1. Trace reactions of blood were found in a number of places and foetal blood was found around the buckle and the zip clasp on the front compartment and human hemoglobin on the zip clasp' of the middle compartment. This evidence was obtained from very small traces.

2. Some three tufts or loops were found which are consistent with the tufts produced from cutting the material of the jump suit.

3. Roberta Downes, in her statement, gave evidence of seeing the black bag in an awkward position in front of the driver. Her invitation to move and hold the bag was declined.

Mrs. Kuhl was able, from tests conducted, to indicate an area of carpet in the front of the driver a little larger than the base of the bag.


1. There is opinion evidence that as the jump suit of the child was done up to the top of the neck that it would not be possible for a canine to cause the injuries to the neck without also damaging the jump suit material. Any such wounds without damage to the material would have required the disarticulation of the animal's jaws, which, on the evidence, I find it would be unable to do.

2. The blood flowed into the collar from above but also all around the neck and at the same time. This is inconsistent with wounds which would be expected to be inflicted by an animal at isolated points and is consistent with blood flowing circumferentially, that is all around the neck.

3. Ultra violet fluorescent photograph suggests the presence of a right hand of a small adult gripping the left hand side of the child within the jump suit while that hand was blood stained. Less well defined is the presence of a left hand. It is reasonable to assume that the child met her death by unnatural causes and that the mode of death had been caused by a cutting instrument possibly circling the neck or at least cutting the vital blood vessels and structures of the neck.

4. I accept Professor Cameron and Sims' evidence, as to, the cause of death even though they have no specific experience with dingos. On the evidence they are experienced in their field and have considerable experience with canines and there is no evidence before me that their evidence would be affected by lack of specific experience with dingos.


There is evidence before me of the presence of dingos that regularly' scavenge in the camp area and indeed specific evidence of a footprint adjacent to the tent. The evidence of the Wests as to hearing a growl supports the presence but not the involvement of a dingo.

There is also evidence available as to the capacities of a dingo to carry a child, inflict wounds and remove the body from the jump suit.

Whilst there is evidence as to the presence and the capacity of dingos, there is total lack of objective evidence to support the view that any dingo was actually involved in the incident that night and to the contrary a considerable quantity of evidence to suggest that a dingo could not have been involved.


1. The evidence before me is that Mrs. Lowe stated that Mrs. Chamberlain was not wearing the tracksuit trousers at the barbecue area when observed by her, and that she was wearing a certain floral dress. There is no evidence of blood staining on that floral dress.

2. Mrs. Chamberlain claims that she put them on at approximately 10.00pm and that before that they were lying on the sleeping bag in the tent.

3. Mrs. Ransom, at Mrs. Chamberlain's request took the trousers to dry cleaners in Mt Isa on the 22nd of August. Special reference was made to marks, but she is unable to say if she was told that these were blood marks.

4. Mrs. Hansell who worked at the dry cleaners stated that Mrs. Ransom told her that they were blood stains. She sketched the stains, which consisted of approximately 36 spots.

5. Mrs. Chamberlain denied the conversation with Mrs. Ransom in that she claimed she did not say that the trousers were blood stained nor that they should be specifically brought to the dry cleaners attention.

6. There is evidence that a person was seated in the front passenger seat while the child was bleeding and the arterial spurt under the dash is consistent with the child being held under the dash adjacent to a passenger's feet.

7. This would be Consistent with such a person receiving stains on clothes from the knees to the shoes inclusive.

8. This would be consistent with the pattern indicated by Mrs. Hansell although I would have some reservations in relying on that lady's memory of the pattern on the tracksuit trousers.

9. Such a pattern is consistent with the lack of blood staining within the tent and therefore an inference that such a staining did not occur within the tent.

10. Because of dry cleaning and washing no traces of blood remain on the trousers nor the shoes worn at the time.


1. The evidence of the parties involved supported by Mr. and Mrs. Lowe is that the child Azaria Chamberlain was alive when held by her mother at the barbecue area. The evidence of Mrs. Chamberlain is that she then took the child to the tent and placed the child in its basket within the tent and returned to the barbecue area. In response to a query from Mr. Chamberlain as to hearing a baby cry, Mrs. Chamberlain goes in the direction of the tent, sees a dingo with what she thinks is something in its mouth, goes to the tent, inspects the tent and finds that the child is missing and, as a result of those observations, a search for a dingo takes place.

2. From conclusions based on the following evidence, namely:

a) The injuries, which in fact brought about death.
b) The presence of the child's blood within the car,
c) The fact that the child 'was present in the car and bleeding;
d) The considerably larger amount of blood in the car as compared with the tent the latter being consistent with secondary contamination;
e) The lack of objective evidence to support the death by a dingo despite the presence of dingos in the area;
f) Some tanner evidence relating to the black vinyl bag and the tracksuit trousers;

I do find that the death of Azaria Chamberlain was a homicide. I propose to now consider what evidence, which exists to support any committal for trial for murder.

1. In relation to Michael Chamberlain, there is in my view, no case in relation to murder. He was seen when the child was alive by the Lowes and was always in their presence until Mrs. Chamberlain claimed that the dingo had taken the child.

2. On all the evidence, the child Reagan was asleep on return from Sunset Strip and remained so until after the disappearance of the child. These observations were supported by independent witnesses.

3. The child Aiden. A statement made by him was tendered in evidence at the inquest denying responsibility. The child was observed just before and again after the claimed incident of the dingo taking the child. It is clear from the evidence of the blood in the car that if such an act was carried out by a seven year old child, there would be some evidence of blood staining on his" clothing or on his person. In fact there is no objective evidence linking Aiden in any way with the death of Azaria.

4. At no stage has there been any claim whatsoever that a stranger was involved in the death.

5. In relation to Mrs. Chamberlain, I find as follows:

a) She was present with the child at the barbecue when both she and Mr. Chamberlain and the independent witnesses say the child was alive.
b) She then left the barbecue area to place the child in the carry basket in the tent, which she claimed she carried out.
c) In response to what was thought to be a child's cry, she approaches the tent, claims to sight a dingo with what appeared to be something in its mouth and cries out that "a dingo has got my baby". I find that there is evidence from which it can be reasonably inferred, that this was a false claim and that in fact the child had been killed in the car prior to that time.

6. No motive has been suggested or proved and there is evidence that Mrs. Chamberlain appeared to be taking care and consideration for the child on that day. On the other hand, the killing of a child by a mother is not an uncommon happening and as is evidenced by the provision in some jurisdictions for the offence of infanticide. It is an inference that the small handprint on the child's clothing could not be any other person than Mrs. Chamberlain and there is evidence of the staining on the tracksuit and shoes.

On all these facts I find there is positive evidence linking Mrs. Chamberlain to the homicide and I find that a prima facie case of murder has been made out.

In relation to Mr. Chamberlain, there is the question of whether he should be charged with being an accessory after the fact to the murder of the child based on his knowledge of his wife's act from early after the incident and through subsequent investigations.

The relevant evidence is as follows:

1. The family car had headlights, two spotlights and a mobile spotlight. This was not used to assist the search, as the car's ignition keys could not be found. In fact the car was moved later with no reference to why the keys could not be found. It is an inference that because of the condition of the car, he did not want it lit even though to do so would have added credibility to the dingo claim.

2. There is the incident of the black vinyl bag and Roberta Downes where he maintained the bag in a very awkward position despite offers to assist. There is also the question of the evidence of some foetal blood in connection with that bag.

3. It is a reasonable inference that Mr. Chamberlain knew of the blood staining in the car, that he would have been involved in the cutting of the cloths and placing them in position to be found.

I find that a prima facie case has been made out against Mr. Chamberlain for the charge of accessory after the fact."

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