The Release of Lindy Chamberlain from Prison Following the Finding of the Matinee Jacket
I found a great news clip on the Internet which outlines the significance of the matinee jacket in the Lindy Chamberlain case and how this new evidence led to her release from a life sentence in prison, pending an Inquiry into the case. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhAepaZX4BY
It seems that the new evidence emerged on 2 February 1986 when Azaria's matinee jacket, which the police had maintained did not exist, was found partially buried adjacent to a dingo lair near Uluru. Five days later, on 7 February 1986, with the discovery of Azaria's missing jacket supporting the Chamberlain's defence case, Lindy Chamberlain was released from prison and her life sentence was remitted by the NT Government. In 1987 the Morling Inquiry began investigating the matter further (See Wikipedia under 'Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton").
It was also reported that the Crown had dismissed the matinee jacket as "a fanciful lie". When the matinee jacket turned up after 5 years, it was proof that Lindy had not lied. See http://lindychamberlain.com/the-story/timeline-of-events/. Norman H Young in his excellent book Innocence Regained: The Fight to Free Lindy Chamberlain (The Federation Press 1989) at p.177 stated that 65% (some 100 pages compared to 20 on the blood evidence) of the prosecutor's final address had been dedicated to attacking the truthfulness of the Chamberlains. The matinee jacket was an embarrassing demonstration that, in this one matter at least, Lindy had not lied, and it presented a nagging possibility that she had told the truth throughout her testimony.
I remember this event very well as when the news of the finding of the matinee jacket broke, I was attending the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) conference in Melbourne, along with forensic biologist Joy Kuhl. I remember everyone crowding around a media board keen to read the relevant article. The finding of the matinee jacket was a critical turning point in the Chamberlain case.
Norman H Young at p.179, when assessing the quick release of Lindy following the finding of the matinee jacket, stated:
The explanations for Lindy's sudden release were as bewildering as the release itself... The best interpretation was the matinee jacket had catalysed the mounting political and public pressure, both in the Northern Territory and Canberra, into an irresistible force.