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Plaster cast of a domestic dog's paw print, made for the Morling Royal Commission into Chamberlain Convictions

1995.0030.0004

Plaster cast of a domestic dog's paw print, made for the Morling Royal Commission into Chamberlain Convictions

Object information

Physical description

A plaster cast of a domestic dog paw print. Text on the side of the cast reads 'C.f.4 a'. Text on the base reads 'Domestic / dog / Labrador/Boxer, / Damp sand / 29/9/86'. Sand and grass seeds are caught in the plaster cast.

Statement of significance

The Professor Robert Morrison collection consists of objects used in the 1986 Morling Royal Commision of Inquiry into the convictions of Michael and Lindy Chamberlain in the Northern Territory. Professor Morrison's evidence was central to overturning earlier forensic evidence. In particular, his evidence, as an expert on Australian fauna, was used to cast doubts on the earlier evidence of a London-based forensic odontologist with no knowledge of dingos.

The trial of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain for the death of their daughter Azaria was one of the major issues of public debate in Australia in the 1980s. The case involved almost every level of the federal judicial system in Australia, from a local coronial inquest to an appeal to the High Court of Australia. Two significant questions regarding the administration of justice were raised by the case - the heavy reliance on forensic evidence by the prosecution, and possible political interference in the judicial process. The convictions of murder (Lindy Chamberlain) and accessory to murder (Michael Chamberlain) were obtained without the prosecution producing a body, a murder weapon, a witness, or a convincing motive. Circumstantial evidence was supported by forensic evidence that was later discredited.

Object information

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