Woman’s Day (Australia)

Is Australia’s worst female serial killer… INNOCENT?

New evidence could clear Kathleen Folbigg of killing her kids


Eighteen years after being convicted of killing her four children, new evidence could see Kathleen Folbigg released and pardoned.

A petition signed by many of the country’s top scientists claims Folbigg has been denied justice as new gene research suggests her children likely died from natural causes.

In 2003 the woman dubbed “Australia’s worst serial killer” was jailed for a non-parole period of 30 years for the murder of her three young children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and the manslaught­er of her first baby, Caleb.


During the court case, prosecutor­s argued that over a 10-year period from 1989 to 1999, Folbigg smothered her young children, whose ages ranged from 19 days to 19 months old at the times of their deaths.

Her diary entries were presented as evidence that she deliberate­ly killed her kids. Before the death of her last child, Laura in 1999, Folbigg seemed to confirm her guilt, writing, “She’s a fairly good natured baby, thank goodness, it will save her from the fate of her siblings.”

In another puzzling entry, she wrote about her daughter Sarah, who died in 1993 aged just ust 10 months, “I knew I was short-tempered and cruel sometimes to her, and she left. With a bit of help.”

But in 2018, Folbigg explained her emotional state while writing these entries. She said they were penned at a very difficult time in her life when she was terrified Laura could die like her siblings.

She told ABC’S Australian Story, “I was so stressed, and so scared, and so feeling vulnerable and so not understand­ing and so not just dealing or coping with the whole concept that we might be doing this again, so I started writing in those diaries.” She added, added “I blamed myself for everything. everyt It’s just I took so much of the responsibi­lity, because becau that’s, as mothers, what you y do.” Folbigg’s Fo former husband and father to the children, Craig, Cr found the diaries at their Hunter Valley, NSW N home.

A series of appeals a and an inquiry two y years ago upheld F Folbigg’s sentence. H Her legal team m mounted another app appeal just last month. Bu But this new scientific resear research, originally discovered in 2018, 201 could finally help suppo support 53-year-old Folbigg’s bid for freedom.

Aus Australian National Univer University researcher­s Professor Carola Vinuesa and Dr Todor Arsov found that Folbigg carries a gene mutation, which was inherited by two of her children, Sarah and Laura.

The G114R variant in the CALM2 gene can cause cardiac arrest or respirator­y disorders in babies. Professor Vinuesa, who gave evidence at the 2019 inquiry, says this and other evidence “points towards natural causes of death”.

Among the 90 high profile signatorie­s to the petition calling for Folbigg to be freed are 2009 Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn and 1996 Nobel Prize winner and 1997 Australian of the Year Peter Doherty.

Child and public health researcher Professor Fiona Stanley explained her reasons for supporting the call, saying, “It is deeply concerning that medical and scientific evidence has been ignored.”

The petition has been sent to NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, requesting a pardon. Even then, Folbigg’s conviction­s will still have to be overturned by the courts.

‘It is deeply concerning that evidence has been ignored’

 ??  ?? Arriving at Maitland Local Court in 2001.
Arriving at Maitland Local Court in 2001.
 ??  ?? Folbigg appeared via video during her 2019 inquiry.
Professor Vinuesa’s research has shed new light on the case.
Folbigg appeared via video during her 2019 inquiry. Professor Vinuesa’s research has shed new light on the case.
 ??  ?? Pages from one of Folbigg’s diaries, which were presented as evidence.
Pages from one of Folbigg’s diaries, which were presented as evidence.

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