Stojanovic says he and wife Mary, both 67, were compelled to support the Chamberlains and firmly believed in their innocence at a time when that opinion was extremely unpopular.
“I always felt a great injustice had been done to the Chamberlains and so we reached out to them when Lindy was on bail.”
Now, to mark the recent 40th anniversary of Azaria’s disappearance, the Stojanovics are speaking out in Lindy Chamberlain: The True Story.
The two-part documentary sheds new light on the tragedy and allows Lindy, her sons Aidan, 46, and Reagan, 44, and daughter Kahlia, 37 – who was born in 1982 in Royal Darwin Hospital after Lindy was found guilty of Azaria’s murder – to share their side of the story.
It’s the first time the family have spoken on camera since a death certificate was issued in 2012, which officially states Azaria had died as a result of a dingo attack.
Sadly, Azaria’s father Michael, who was charged with being an accessory after the fact in 1982 before the conviction was overturned in 1988, died from leukaemia at 72 in 2017.
Lindy and her family also encouraged their friends and supporters to participate in the compelling documentary, narrated and executive produced by actor Sam Neill.
“We have always been supportive of Lindy and the family and when she asked us to participate, we didn’t hesitate,” Mary says.
The shop assistant, who lives in Coolangatta with her husband of 48 years, says she agreed to support the Chamberlains during their legal appeals after meeting them in 1983.
“It was hard to defend Lindy 40 years ago,” Mary recalls. “But Peter followed their case very closely and became convinced early on they were innocent because local Indigenous people always maintained that it was possible a dingo took Azaria, and other campers at Uluru had previously had encounters with dingoes, so he made contact with the couple offering support.”
As a mother to three children herself – her youngest daughter was of a similar age to Azaria – Mary says she was initially reluctant to reach out to a woman people claimed was a murderer.
“But when we drove from our then-home in Melbourne to meet the Chamberlains at their place in Cooranbong [on NSW’s Central Coast], I met a sincere and honest woman who opened the door to us and welcomed us in. That door remained open and we developed a close friendship from there.” Mary adds that “it’s impossible for anyone to comprehend what Lindy’s been through though”.
Peter also adds that it’s Lindy’s strength, resilience and undimmed love for the daughter she lost that he most admires. “Lindy is my heroine,” he says. “The way she’s conducted herself after everything she’s been through is inspirational.”
He says their friend felt the need to speak out on this anniversary as a testament to her daughter and also as a cautionary tale. “By being found guilty of Azaria’s murder, Lindy suffered a terrible injustice,” Peter says.
“The legal system let the Chamberlains down and that’s not something you’d think could happen here.”
Lindy Chamberlain: The True Story airs Sep. 27 and 28, 7.30pm on Network Ten