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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Police examine dingo baby claim
Baby Azaria Chamberlain was snatched by a dingo in 1980
Australian police are probing a man's claim he shot a dingo that snatched a baby at the centre of a 1982 law case.

Lindy Chamberlain had her murder conviction overturned by proving her baby Azaria was taken by a dingo at a campsite at Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock.

A newspaper has sparked speculation by printing new claims by Frank Cole, 87.

Mr Cole says he shot the wild dog with Azaria's body still in its jaws while on a camping trip with three friends in August 1980.

Buried body?

Mr Cole told the Sunday Herald Sun that he did not tell police because he feared he would be fined for killing the dog.

He said one of his friends took Azaria's body and never said what he did with it. But Mr Cole said he thought one of the men - who has since died - could have buried the baby's body in his garden in Melbourne, Victoria.

Victoria Police told BBC News Online: "We are aware of the recent claims and Victoria Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon has offered to assist Northern Territories [Territory] Police in any investigation into these comments and whether they have any validity."

The probe will be headed by police in the Northern Territory, where Azaria disappeared.

Some scepticism has greeted the claims about the infamous case that was followed closely throughout Australia and across the world.

Paul Everingham, who was political leader of the Northern Territory province when Azaria went missing, told the Associated Press: "I find it hard to believe, maybe it's right but I'm not buying it, certainly not at this stage."

The story of Azaria's disappearance was made into a 1988 Hollywood movie, A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.

Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murdering her infant but later released from prison and cleared of the crime after fresh evidence supported her claim that a dingo took the child.

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