SA man relives dingo case

2012-02-28 00:00

PRETORIA geologist Dr Chris Hatton yesterday described the first moments after the sensational disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in the Australian outback about 30 years ago.

Hatton, the father of Kylie Hatton, a spokesperson for the Cape Town municipality, was travelling through Australia with his family at the time.

The Hattons were camping three or four tents away from the Chamberlains at Ayers Rock when the nine-week-old baby disappeared on August 17, 1980.

Decades later there is still uncertainty about whether the baby was indeed dragged away by a dingo.

Now the mystery is in the news again, as a fourth judicial inquiry got under way in Darwin in northern Australia last week. Azaria’s parents have asked that new evidence relating to dingo attacks be taken into account, showing that their baby’s death had, in fact, been caused by dingos.

Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, was convicted in October 1982 of her baby’s murder and was sent to jail. She was released early in 1986 after a missing baby jacket belonging to Azaria was found in the area.

Since then the case has been regarded as not concluded.

Hatton described the events at the campsite to The Witness sister newspaper Die Burger yesterday.

“My father-in-law [the late Dee Williams] was quite a grim man. It was round about dusk when a man came to him, asking to borrow a torch.

“He asked what the man wanted the torch for, and the reply was, ‘We think a dingo has taken our baby.’”

Hatton said he thought it a somewhat “light” response for someone whose child had disappeared.

“We started helping. I walked over to the tent from which the baby had disappeared. A little boy of about four was sitting at the entrance.

“The dingo would have had to drag the baby past this little boy.”

Hatton said the campers formed a straight line and started combing the area. There was no sign of the baby or any signs that a dingo had been there.

“The next day a tracker who was well-known in the area searched for any tracks. He followed a track where something had been dragged, but later realised the markings had been caused by someone pulling a stick through the sand,” he added.

The Hattons climbed Ayers Rock, a large sandstone rock formation, the next day.

“Little Kylie was about two years old. It was quite strange to think that a child had just disappeared in the area.”

One of the most interesting things has to be what the little boy sitting in the tent will have seen.

“The whole thing was truly strange. There was no alarm raised or any drama when the child disappeared.”

Hatton said that back in Tasmania, where he and his family were living at the time, he made a sworn statement to the police.

“Because the mother had been found guilty we didn’t think of doing anything further about it.”

After the mother’s release Hatton inquired about what had happened to his sworn statement, but the Tasmanian police could not find it. — Media24.

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