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Exclusive: Dingo expert talks about jump-suit, N.T. police and how it was obvious Lindy was innocent

The Lindy Tapes documentary premieres on Channel 7 this Sunday Hans Brunner was the man who finally identified the dingo hairs in the Azaria Chamberlain Appeal in 1988. He also examined the jump-suit she had been wearing and experienced the attitudes of Northern Territory officials involved in the case. Here we publish his remarks on the recent coronial verdict. He is refreshingly candid. He also defends dingos and comments unfavorably on the the fining of a woman who fed hungry ones on Fraser Island. Brunner's remarks add to the evidence that Australians should not just assume that the Australian justice system and media are basically reliable. Nor, particularly, should we assume that the government knows what it is talking about with regard to Australian wildlife. These 'authorities' need to be questioned constantly and those who question them should not be easily dismissed.

In 1980 Azaria Chamberlain disappeared at Ayers Rock/Uluru. She was 9 weeks old. Her mother said that she had seen a dingo leaving the tent. The implication was that a dingo had taken the baby. Mrs Chamberlain however, was accused and convicted of murder.

1988 Appeal overturned convictions based on Brunner dingo hair identification

In 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal overturned all convictions against the Chamberlains. The evidence of Hans Brunner, a forensic hair expert,[1] was crucial for the overturning of the conviction, since he was able to identify dingo hairs.
Although the convictions against Mr and Mrs Chamberlain were overturned, a coronial inquest in 1995 delivered an open verdict.

June 12, 2012 Second Inquest: Brunner comments

On June 12, 2012 a second coroner delivered a verdict that a dingo did take Azaria.

I asked Hans Brunner what he thought of this and published his response as a comment, on June 13, 2012. He wrote to me,

"Why did it take so long to finally admit that a dingo took the baby Azaria? This result was obvious to me right from the start. Mrs. Chamberlain would have had to be twice as clever as Houdini to accomplish what she was accused of. I thought that it was over and done with after I identified Dog (Dingo) hairs found on the jump suit and singlet. But no, the 'powers that be' did not like to admit that Dingoes can be a danger to children as this could have badly affected tourism. A lot of the scientific evidence given was scandalous and perverted and left the door wide open for a conviction. We can't blame the judges when they were fed with lies.

But now I am elated that the truth has finally been accepted."

Doubt in public mind, re jumpsuit

This statement about the role of dingoes in the fate of Azaria Chamberlain elicited some doubtful comments.

One comment was, "Its not so much that I don't believe it. It's that I don't believe there was no human involvement at all... Someone took her from that tent and the dingos may have ended up with her. It just doesn't sit right ; I'm not saying that Lindy did or didn't have anything to do with it, but I'm just not convinced."

Another comment was, "The biggest question in my mind is how did the blood-stained jumpsuit get off the baby in one piece and undamaged?? Why did no one see anything? Evidence was removed beforehand. There are just too many unanswered questions surrounding the whole situation."

Brunner today on jumpsuit, officials' attitudes, dingoes and injustice

I asked Hans these questions and he wrote the following explanation based on his observations of material for the Appeal. It contains information about police attitudes of the time, which is shocking. One can only feel the greatest dismay at the way Lindy Chamberlain was treated by our police, court and media.

Hans wrote to me on 16 June 2012:

"I have seen and carefully inspected the jumpsuit and singlet as well as many other items in Canberra.

The jumpsuit was soaked with blood and badly damaged in front. I have taken special notice of the ends of the fibers in the damaged area and found them with torn ends and not cut. I was well trained for this as I had to examine lots of sheep wool found in wild dog droppings. When the wool had natural tips it was from a lamb that has not yet been sheared. The others had clearly cut ends.

As to human intervention, I have no doubt that this happened, but only AFTER the dingo took Azaria. I belief that the baby was taken from the dingo, disposed of, and the clothes placed where they were found.

At an earlier stage, just when the clothes were found, I rang the police and offered to examine dingo droppings collected in the surroundings to see whether I could find remains of Azaria in them. I was bluntly refused and told that, "She did it anyhow," and the phone went silent. I was only asked very much later by the Defence to examine hairs mounted on two microscope slides. This was very easy for me since I used dingo hairs as reference sample in my book, The Identification of Mammalian Hair.

As for the skeptics, they probably took only notice of what was fed to them by journalists and crook scientists, while the real information remained hidden from them.

I love dingoes very much. I worked with them while two were in captivity for two years at the Keith Turnbull Research Institute in Frankston.

I am still extremely angry that a women on Frazer Island, who fed a hungry, sick looking dingo, was fined $ 40,000 for giving it some food.

When does injustice stop?"


[1] Mr Brunner was then a Senior Technical Officer for the Department of Conservation, Forest and Land. He developed the technique for identifying mammalian hair which was published in 1974 and is used around the world. In Australia users include the CSIRO, Government agencies and universities.

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There was absolutely no evidence to even suggest that the Chamberlains killed their baby. The camping ground at the time had other campers, and they witnessed the horror of the parents searching for their baby. They all believed the Chamberlains and witnessed their distress. There were footprints on the space blanket at the time, but the police cleaned it. Why and how would Lindy kill her baby?
The "blood" in the car turned out to be paint. The hairs were evidence of a dingo.
The whole saga and damage to the Chamberlains was to deflect from the NT poor management of the camping ground, and lack of care of duty.
The dingo wouldn't have to "attack" a sleeping baby, but consider it easy "food". Humans aren't an exception to the Laws of Nature!
The mismanagement of this case raises serious questions about our judicial system. Without evidence of a body, blood, a weapon, motive, and in the light of dingoes in the area at the time, it was obviously a dingo that took Azaria, and no evidence contrary to it.
There could have been some human intervention, but not from the Chamberlains. A park ranger could have found the baby's remains and buried it, to avert further implications as to their lack of responsible management of tourist and wildlife.

The refusal by the NT Government to acknowledge impropriety in its persecution of the Chamberlains for 32 years, and its refusal to apologise, is symptomatic of an insular morally corrupt culture in its senior management.

Here are some other reasons for this assessment:

1. Mataranka cruelty - NT Government Complicit
2. The Primary Industries department of the NT Government, through its close association with LiveCorp and Meat and Livestock Australia, was well aware of the halal cruelty of Indonesian abattoirs, yet due to the high value of live cattle exports to the NT economy did nothing about it. It failed in its governance responsibilities as well as in betraying Australian society's moral values.
3. Decades of NT Government neglect of indigenous communities by not providing adequate policing and other services, lead to gross instances of violence and child abuse which drove the Howard Government in 2007 to implement the The Northern Territory National Emergency Response (also referred to as "the intervention").
4. The NT Government oversaw a large part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) which received millions of federal funding to distribute to Indigenous community programs, including health, education and employment. It was an absolute failure, wasted millions and presiding over increasingly horrible conditions in Aboriginal communities and was ultimately disbanded in 2003.
5. The NT Government has a history of neglecting to supply public infrastructure and services to remote Indigenous communties, while instead diverting fiunds to beautify downtown Darwin.
6. The ongoing problem of Darwin's northern suburbs losing power due to the neglect of the power distribution network - maintenance of the substations, etc.
7. NT Government;s administration and delivery of the SIHIP remote indigenous housing programme to build 750 homes, floundered, seeing less than half built due to delays in developing information systems, an absence of key staff, a weakness in governance and delays in completing key planning documents.
8. In all literacy and numeracy tests only 30 to 35% of Northern Territory students met national minimum standards. When those who did not participate are added, half the students in the Northern Territory failed to meet national minimum standards. In the rest of Australia less than 15% of students failed to meet the minimum standards.

Suggan Buggan
Snowy River Region

IF you want to know more about Hans Brunner and the Lindy Chamberlain appeal, tune into the "Lindy Tapes" documentary, which premieres on Channel 7 Sunday 16th August at 8.30pm. Brunner pointed out that dingos were dogs, among other things. That's an indication of the state of education in our legal professions and the need for more science education.

Just watched this documentary. It was absolutely terrific! Hans Brunner's contribution to justice was very important. Just proves to me again what a sorry profession the law is. Fortunately the journalists involved in this documentary - father and son, the first inspiring the second - were incredible. As were the Chamberlains in their terrible ordeal.

Hans Brunner's expert evidence was extremely important in this case. Had it been taken on beard decades earlier it would have saved a lot of misery for the Chamberlain family. At least they finally saw some degree of justice although the harm could not be undone. There are heroes in this sorry tale and Hans is one of them.