30th Anniversary Letter, August 2010

A letter to Open-Minded Australians

letterIt is hard to believe it is thirty years since my darling baby was taken. For some odd reason everyone says you will soon forget. Why is it that people expect me to forget a part of myself? Why would you? Loss of a loved one, particularly a child is not something you forget any more than you can get out of your mind that you once attended school. That does not mean you dwell on it all the time. It is simply there in the fabric of your life and history. In some ways it seems forever and in others it is like yesterday still. Yesterday are the happy memories, and the years are the pain.

I choose to dwell on the happy memories and not on the pain. Dwelling on the pain is only something that those who wish you harm hope that you will do. They want you miserable. I don’t wish to be miserable. That is why I learned what forgiveness really is and put it in to practise. You always hear people say to forgive, but they don’t tell you how to do it and that is key. Once you learn that, you wonder why you didn’t do it before. Forgiveness is for yourself, it puts the responsibility on those who hurt you, and lets you get on with your life. It does not say it is ok to hurt me, then hurt me again. It simply says yes you hurt me, you had no right to do that to me but you did. I acknowledge that you did that and that I am not responsible for your actions. I will not take over the continuation of you actions towards me by allowing you or them to dwell in my mind and continue to fester and ruin my life. I have taken back control of my own life and head space and move forward. I am moving forward, not looking backward.

So, have I forgiven everyone involved in creating the fiasco of the last thirty years and the public so willing to believe the worst and spread nasty rumours? Of course I have. I have handed the hurt back to those who caused it and it is up to them as individuals to ask God to forgive them for what they did, because I forgave long ago and moved on. Oh and despite what some headlines have said in the last twelve months, that does include the police, politicians and lawyers of the NT. It would be nice to get a voluntary apology, but I am no longer holding my breath.

Did you know that the truth is not a defence for libel in Australia? Ridiculous as that sounds that is the law as it currently stands. So if you tell the truth about someone you can be charged with libel if you say something a person has done wrong but which they want to remain hidden. They can have you charged in court because you told the truth and revealed their dirty dealing. Of course once you are in court (or under Parliamentary privilege) you can say whatever truth or lies you like and no one can touch you for it. I believe one should be able to tell the truth openly without having to be dragged into court by corrupt people covering their trails. Unfortunately the way the law stands now I cannot tell you of any internal deals, deliberate lies, affairs or favours that I may know of that may make what happened in my case a lot clearer. If I did I would be charged with libel and the truth doesn’t count in Australia yet.

Now it seems like in the centuries to come there will still be arguments over who said what, where and how. It seems to me that it is ridiculous that people will believe all that stuff. Can they not even try to think for themselves but believe everything they are told to think by someone else? In the last couple of weeks I discover I apparently did twice the amount of time in prison that I actually did, in Berrimah Prison no less, despite it being quite obvious that I was in Darwin Prison and Berrimah was only the suburb. Berrima Gaol is in NSW. Only very subtle changes you say and nit picking. Yes you are right that the difference is small in one way – it is only one wrong word. Now look at it another way. One prison does not exist at all and the other is thousands of kilometres away. Now it becomes not such a small thing but totally misleading. This is where lies and rumours start. When the truth is dealt with this way, subtly leaving a word out here and changing one there, then it goes into the archives unchallenged because someone else thinks it is too small to matter and another mistake is let slide, or a deliberate omission or addition let go and you soon can bury the truth so deep that only the most vigilant will ever find it again.

Of courses you can start rumours like the one where I was supposed to have hit on the policemen who raided us! They wish! Of course they didn’t bring that up in court. It is much easier to besmirch a person’s reputation by starting a rumour or making a statement with no basis in fact that will surface accidentally or on purpose some time. Bury the fact that until the police told us we had to stay near the tent we had both searched. By belittling and burying it on the one hand and on the other use it as the excuse to say we sneaked away to bury Azarias’ body, in the end was so successful that even the jury came to believe we didn’t search, despite testimony to the contrary.

It is no wonder that the eyewitnesses resent being disbelieved again and again when they hear and see the stupid lies and innuendoes resurface again and again. You see it is the questions not asked in court that are often the most important. For example Murray Habys’ evidence that he had found what the Aboriginals later confirmed were the tracks of the dingo that took Azaria and the marks where it had put her down. When we met him after he had given his evidence he told us he was not supposed to mention this, and only an odd question allowed him to say what he wished about what he had found. With selective or very technical evidence it is no wonder that modern day juries are no longer equipped to make an informed decision. We need an updated system for the modern age we live in so that there is less likelihood of the guilty going free (because they take advantage of the current inadequacies) and the innocent being charged because they expect the truth and fairness that once a court was based on. Now it is just a lethal game.

Come on Australia. Surely you cannot be proud of the fact that you can let yourself be duped again and again and come back for more of the same. We used to be a proud nation who saw through corruption and were willing to give a fair go. How many times do you have to be hoodwinked and led along by the nose before you demand something better from our courts, police force, politicians and media? There are good, honest, truthful people in all these fields. We need to support them in their struggle to clean up their profession and stand for truth and justice. Hitler got as far as he did because good people didn’t wake up to the importance of the small details that did not look threatening on their own, until the avalanche engulfed all and it was too late to fix.

Painful as it may be at times we need to stand up and be counted. Change starts with the individual, the family, the local community, the town, the state, the country. It is not easy to decide not to let the small things slip, or give in to the bully because of the pain or embarrassment it may cause us, but if you don’t do it you may as well die now. Grow a backbone before the world turns on you. Give up the desire for gossip and sensationalism. Use your brains for something useful. You may surprise yourself what you can achieve.

I thank God that the Crown eyewitnesses in my case did have backbones as did quite a few ordinary Australians who were willing to stand up and say “hey I don’t know what happened but something is not right here and we need all the facts” which paved the way for new legislation allowing for Royal Commissions in Australia now. This allows for all of the evidence, rumours, tip-offs and questions to be exhaustively investigated. The Commissioner in our case was asked to find our guilt or innocence. Although we argued otherwise, he did not feel he had been given the power to rule on whether cause of death was a dingo or not so did not rule on that. Despite that (the Crown always claimed that it was either me or a dingo),  [The Honourable Mr Justice] Moreling in his finding said we would be guilty “íf, in spite of so many considerations pointing to their innocence, the conclusion was reached that it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that a dingo did not take the baby. In the light of all the evidence before the Commission, I am of the opinion that such a conclusion cannot be reached.”

Our family will always remember today as the day truth was dragged in the dirt and trampled upon, but more than that it is the day our family was torn apart forever because we lost our beautiful little Azaria. She will always ever be what this ongoing fight for justice has been all about. She deserves justice. In light of all the evidence before the Commission, this should be reflected on her death certificate and not the open finding that is there now. It is not like the eyewitnesses are dead or that there was not a recommendation from the Royal Commission and the NT Supreme Court who quashed our convictions. It would not take more taxpayers money to do it. These courts were exhaustive, why not adopt their recommendations and stop wasting everyone’s time, money and intelligence. Lindy or a dingo was the NT claim. Their own Commission proved it was not me, as I had told them all along, so why don’t they accept their own claim now? It makes one wonder: are they really after the truth, or just too stubborn or proud to admit that a mistake has been made? Who knows the reason, but most of all please do not forget that a beautiful little girl died tragically on this date thirty years ago.

Regards,
Lindy

16 Responses to 30th Anniversary Letter, August 2010

  1. Sandra Hartley, EdD says:

    Lindy: You were denied the sigh of relief that any mother seeks. My empathy for you is beyond words. I was also born in 1948 and my first baby daughter was also born in 1980 (in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). The timing of your family life resonates with mine. I lost my baby Catherine briefly in West Edmonton Mall as a toddler when she left my sight as I purchased carnival rides for her in the crowded entertainment park. Previously soneone has stolen her baby stroller, so I was already on high alert, but in seconds she was buried in people and I was yelling and panicking as I shouted out a description of her to anyone who was able to hear me. There were at least 5 directions to go, and I was certain someone had grabbed her and ran. Thankfully, it was no dingo, and no abductor… it took many minutes, but my two year old saw me at the ticket booth and simply ran off to get to the ride whe wanted to try first. I found her waiting eagerly at a ferris wheel quite a distance away, and breathed the sigh of relief that you never had. You describe the terror of losing a child exactly the way I did. While I say I have empathy for you, no one can know what you have really been through. The movie, the book, the articulate words can never convey the true experience of your loss. Your sigh and your relief never came. I am so sorry for this incomprehensible situation you faced – all 30 years of it. I feel so lucky to have sighed.

  2. Heidi Gifford says:

    Your faith in God is a great inspiration to me –
    I remember seeing an interview some years ago of yourself with Bert Newton and Bert asked you ‘if it was your religion that got you through’. You said ‘not my religion, but my faith’.
    At that point I realised that there is a difference between religion and faith. Thank you.
    I pray for God’s peace and blessings upon you and your family. With best wishes from Heidi Gifford.

  3. Megan says:

    I was 7 when Azaria was taken, and I still remember it on the news and I have been on your side since that day. It still makes me shudder with what you went through and the worst part was that you lost your baby, but that was never acknowledged. It makes me angry beyond words when someone is wrongly convicted. I don’t know why people want to believe the worst, I just don’t understand it. Maybe they are not happy with themselves so they try to bring others down.
    Whatever reason we’ll never know why some people were against you. I just wanted to say I have thought of you over the last 33 years, all of your family and the beautiful little girl you lost. I wish you all peace. xxx

  4. Donal Kavanagh says:

    Sometime ago, around 1986 just before I turned 23, I discovered in myself I was guilty of believing many of the rumors that were going around at the time. I felt so ashamed of it. I realised I was one of those thoughtless people who contributed to your guilt. With no evidence, just gossip. I felt like personally apologising for my participation in the matter even though at the time it seemed so insignificant. I was as guilty as anyone else who participated in falsely accusing you.
    I have been a bold stand for you and your family since.
    No longer am I the space for such thoughtless actions.
    I sincerely apolagise for my part.
    May God bless you the rest of your days. xx

  5. Bronwyn says:

    30 years ago, when the non-believers far outweighed the “dingo” believers, I am happy to say I was certain that you were innocent. I did however, keep my opinion to myself as in discussions, I was ridiculed for my belief in you. I was delighted when you were found innocent and am so pleased that the tide of opinion has subsequently reversed. You didn’t deserve what happened. Nor did your family. God bless you.

  6. Helen Mckernan says:

    My prayers and thoughts have always been with you and your family. I cannot begin to believe the pain and grief you all experienced. Your ability to overcome this agony and find the forgiveness in your heart has been a constant inspiration to me personally particularly on the loss of our much loved son to the horrible scourge of drugs! I pray you will continue to work and inspire and find continual peace. Thank you. I had hoped to hear you in Corowa , but was unable to get there, when would you be in this area again? God Bless, Helen

  7. Kerry Weinholz says:

    My family always believed the truth about the dingo: we lived on a farm and had seen what dingoes could do to cattle. The inability for truth to be paraded in our courts is a terrible injustice to the innocent. A young woman we knew suffered a similar experience of serving ‘time’ for a false accusation. It was her faith in God that held her through those times. While studying the life of Joseph in a book called “God planned it for good”, (while you were in prison), I was deeply impressed by the spirit of God that you would one day be vindicated by God through something totally unexpected. When that matinee jacket was found, I was so excited! (I have since met a family that was at Uluru at the time, and they were shocked that the authorities at the time were not interested in what they had to say.) Thank you for sharing your life and your God with the world. You are truly an inspiration for patient endurance, and for building life upon the faithfulness of God :-) May God bless you abundantly.

  8. Claudia says:

    Never forget the short life of litlle sweet Azaria, That´s the real tragedy. Sometimes this fact is hidden behind all the justice stuff.

  9. Steve Jackson says:

    I am so sorry that your loss, bullying, and fight for justice, for your little girl had you endure so many human hurdles and road blocks.

    In reading the anniversary letter and your warmth and forgiveness on this site, you have assisted me in my struggle from keeping the black dog from my door.

    I wish I spoke for everyone in accepting your forgiveness.

  10. Becky says:

    I was at Ayers Rock camping with my mother and 14 other people in 1980. We were the only ones in the campground. It must have been the rainy season, as our truck was bogged many times by flooding areas. Several Aboriginal children showed up as we were setting up camp in the late afternoon. They all disappeared before sundown when we heard a couple voices off in the distance. At the time, the Ayers Rock site was so beautiful. There was only a tiny hotel with a few units. What I will never forget are the dingoes. Some of us were sitting around the campfire when all of a sudden we saw lots of pairs of glowing eyes around us. They were dingoes. They weren’t very far away from us. It was totally unnerving. Some of the girls started screaming. To be honest, most of us would not go to the bathroom that night. Those who did venture over to the bathroom did so in a group. And lots of us didn’t sleep. What I felt was that they weren’t scared like other wild animals. Tragically, I never knew the story until many years later. I truly believe the animals were very capable of killing a small baby. The tribal people were very careful to have their children home early in the evening. They took off through the bush and we know there are snakes and other dangerous creatures besides the dingoes.

  11. Yvette Thomson says:

    My husband and I met your former husband Michael when we were living in Burketown in August 1980. He was there doing a freelance story for the North West Star. He spoke of your upcoming trip to Ayers Rock and the fact that you had just had a baby. We have followed your story throughout the years and have been horrified at the way you were treated and also the inaccurate and biased reporting that the public took for granted as being the truth. We heard first hand how the rumour mill started and gained momentum in Queensland. The horrible things that were said after Azaria’s memorial service in Mt Isa on a Friday. I think you are an amazing person to have survived everything that has been thrown at you and your family. I hope that the Australian public has learnt a lesson about believing anything that comes from the media. Unfortunately I doubt it. After all is said and done, you and your family tragically had your beautiful daughter taken from you in horrific circumstances. Then your lives were turned upside down due to extreme ignorance and prejudice of so many people who should have known better I just hope that your family has found the peace that you all deserve.

  12. Phil says:

    Dear Lindy

    I have no wise or sage words to say – just simply….sorry.

  13. John says:

    I as an American know you are innocent. I had heard the scant news here in the mid Eighties and thought you were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Innocent people have been persecuted since the beginning of time. You are one of them. God Bless and keep the faith. Prayers for your lost child.

  14. Susannah says:

    Dear Lindy,

    Not only did you experience every parents worst nightmare, but your grieving should have been respected, not polluted by ignorance and despicable rumours that resulted in further suffering for you, your children,your family, friends, legal supporters and eye witnesses.

    Your story has no precedence and your mistreatment is shameful for Australia , its courts, media, and police. Your plight to inspire change must not go unheard.

    Through all your pain and incarceration, at no time did you loose focus on fighting for justice . This justice did not exist around you, and like a child who trusts that their parents will take care of them ,this was denied and,the judicial system took 32 years to change Azaria’s cause of death to being taken by a Dingo or Dingo’s . God bless you and I pray for the faith you have.

    As a midwife, I was so moved that you arranged for Kahlia to be breast fed when you were denied the right. How noble and selfless. Thank you for inspiring so many. You have astounded me with your story, courage and determination to forgive.

    Kindest regards

    *name withheld*

    Bathurst NSW

  15. Linda J Hodgkinson says:

    II always believed you and I couldn’t believe the inhumane way in which you were treated. God bless you and yours XX

  16. Cheryl Ann Knights says:

    Hi Lindy, I always believed in your innocence. I remember when the verdict was announced I was at a friends house and it came on the news. I felt devastated for you as I just knew in my gut that a miscarriage of justice had just happened. I have always spoken of my belief in your innocence and I used to pray for you as I know it would be horrendous enough to lose your daughter that way and then to be accused of her murder when you are innocent would be just heart wrenching. you have been through so much Lindy and I so felt your pain for many years as I followed your progress. Thank God that justice has finally prevailed and you have found some comfort and solace with your new husband. I know nothing can ever take away the pain you have endured but I am so happy to see you free and happy now. I wish you many blessings for your future.

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