On Monday, the state of New South Wales in Australia pardoned a mother who had been imprisoned for 20 years for the deaths of her four children after a judicial review decided there was reasonable doubt about the initial convictions.
Kathleen Megan Folbigg was convicted in 2003 of murdering three of her children and manslaughter in the fourth. Folbigg maintained her innocence, claiming that the children died naturally.
An early investigation in 2019 concluded that the evidence supported Folbigg’s guilt. However, after fresh information showed that two of the children had a genetic abnormality that could have caused their deaths, a second inquiry led by former Chief Justice Thomas Bathurst examined her convictions in 2022.
Folbigg was pardoned on Monday by New South Wales state Attorney General Michael Daley after the Bathurst inquiry’s summary conclusions established reasonable doubt for each conviction.
“Today’s result confirms that our judicial system is capable of delivering justice, and it demonstrates that the rule of law is an important underpinning of our democratic system,” Daley added.
“Given everything that has happened in the last 20 years, it is impossible not to sympathise with Kathleen and Craig Folbigg.”
Daley stated that the unconditional pardon would liberate Folbigg but would not overturn her convictions.
In a report to the Attorney General, Bathurst stated that three of the infants died naturally, two from a genetic mutation known as CALM2-G114R and one from an underlying neurogenic condition.
Such uncertainties then damaged the Crown’s case in respect to her fourth child’s manslaughter, according to Bathurst.
“Furthermore, I cannot accept the proposition that the evidence establishes that Ms Folbigg was anything other than a caring mother for her children,” he added.
Case of Australia’s Kathleen Megan Folbigg
Kathleen Megan Folbigg is an Australian woman who was convicted of killing her four children. She was born on June 14, 1967, in New South Wales, Australia. The events surrounding her case took place between 1989 and 1999.
Folbigg’s children, Caleb, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura, all died during infancy. Caleb died in 1989 at 19 days old, followed by Patrick in 1990 at 8 months old, Sarah in 1993 at 10 months old, and Laura in 1999 at 19 months old. Initially, the deaths were believed to be due to natural causes, such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
However, further investigation into the deaths raised suspicions, and in 2003, Kathleen Folbigg was charged with and convicted of the murders of her children. The prosecution presented evidence suggesting that Folbigg had smothered the children, based on her personal diaries and conversations she had with friends and family. These materials contained entries and statements suggesting that she had a troubled relationship with her children and expressed frustration and anger towards them.
In 2003, Kathleen Folbigg was found guilty of the murder of her four children and was sentenced to 40 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years. Her case attracted significant media attention in Australia and sparked a debate about the reliability of forensic evidence and the role of maternal instincts in criminal investigations.
Folbigg’s case has been the subject of ongoing controversy and has attracted the attention of advocates who question her guilt. Some argue that the evidence against her was circumstantial and not conclusive, and there have been calls for a review of her case. However, as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, no successful appeals or reviews have resulted in her conviction being overturned.