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Metal panel from the area under the dashboard of the Chamberlains

Metal panel from the area under the dashboard of the Chamberlains' car with a spray of sound deadener that was incorrectly identified as blood

Object type
Motor car components

Object number
1993.0118.0074.001

Description
A metal motor car component from a car body in an Ilford cardboard box. The metal is brown to yellow in colour, with five manufacturer's holes and the letter "F" handwritten in black texta on the reverse. It is housed in an Ilford cardboard box.

This piece of metal was one of the most notorious pieces of evidence in the Crown case. It was testified at the trial that the spatter pattern was caused by an arterial blood spray of a child aged under three months. There was considerable evidence given at the Royal Commission into the Chamberlain Convictions contesting this conclusion. In the Report of the Commissioner (1987) Justice Trevor Morling found that 'the spray pattern on the plate was in fact a sound deadening bituminous compound' (p. 98) and had occurred during the manufacture of the car. He summed up its significance in the Report:

'I do not consider that the presence of baby's blood, or any blood, has been established upon the area under the dashboard. ... The fact that she [Mrs Joy Kuhl] could come to such a conclusion about something which was, very probably, sound deadener casts doubt upon the efficacy of her testing generally and upon the accuracy of her other results.' (p. 106)

'The evidence as to the alleged arterial blood spray under the dash of the car may have had a considerable impact on the jury. Mrs Chamberlain was challenged to provide an explanation for it and was unable to do so. The Crown's evidence was that the arterial blood spray contained foetal haemoglobin. If the jury accepted that evidence, they must have regarded it as compelling evidence of Mrs Chamberlain's guilt.' (p. 313)

Collection name
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton collection no. 2

Collection statement of significance
This collection contains items relating to the events that surrounded the death of Azaria Chamberlain. The collection includes a number of items that the Chamberlain family took with them on their camping holiday in central Australia, pieces of clothing worn by Lindy Chamberlain, material sent to or made by her in prison and articles that related to the family's lives more broadly. A number of items were collected as evidence by the police and tendered in evidence at the inquests, criminal trial and royal commission into the convictions Michael and Lindy Chamberlain for accessory to murder and for murder.

The disappearance of Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (11 June - 17 August 1980) has become one of the most infamous events in contemporary Australian history. The explanation of her disappearance, that she was prey to a dingo at Ayers Rock (now Uluru), was soon treated with suspicion by the general public. After two coronial inquests, Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murder and imprisoned for over three years, until mounting evidence forced a royal commission that ultimately resulted in the exoneration of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain by the Supreme Court of Darwin. The National Museum holds the largest public collection of material culture relating to the case.

Associated person/organisation
Mrs Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton

Associated place
Australia

Associated date
1980 - 1986

Materials
Metal - non specific

Dimensions
Length: 130mm
Width: 130mm
Height: 10mm



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