June 5, 2023

Govt pardons woman jailed 20 yrs for killing four children

Govt pardons woman jailed 20 yrs for killing four children

By Biodun Busari

A 55-year-old Australian woman who has served a 20-year imprisonment over the deaths of her four children was pardoned and freed on Monday.

Kathleen Folbigg, who was dubbed “Australia’s worst female serial killer” regained her freedom following new scientific evidence suggesting the kids died of natural causes as she had always reiterated.

Folbigg received an unconditional pardon from New South Wales Governor, Margaret Beazley and was released from a prison in the city of Grafton, according to NBS.

New South Wales Attorney General Michael Daley disclosed he had recommended that Folbigg be pardoned based on preliminary findings from a second inquiry into her guilt by former state chief justice Tom Bathurst.

Bathurst has been examining Folbigg’s 2003 convictions of the manslaughter of her son Caleb, the infliction of grievous bodily harm on her son Patrick and the murder of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura.

In the memo, Bathhurst wrote to Daley last week that the woman should be freed based on medical and genetic evidence as well as the conduct of the trial.

“I have reached the view that there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Ms Folbigg for each of these offences,” Bathhurst said.

Folbigg was serving 30 years in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2028, five years before the end of her sentence. Bathurst’s final report could recommend that her convictions be overturned.

“She is very, very happy,” New South Wales lawmaker Sue Higginson told NBC News. “I have had messages that there have been tears, there’s laughter, there’s hug with her friends, and that she is seeing life now very differently from how it’s been for the last 20 years.”

Higginson also said that she thinks “it’s absolutely inevitable that her convictions will be overturned. What we’ve seen now is clear evidence as well.” 

An earlier inquiry, which ended in 2019, finalised that there was no reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt. The second inquiry was prompted by a 2021 petition in which 90 scientists and medical professionals argued that new scientific evidence “creates a strong presumption that the Folbigg children died of natural causes.”

“The entire time that Kathleen Folbigg has been in custody is a result of a miscarriage of justice,” they argued.

Folbigg was convicted of manslaughter in the 1989 death of her first child, Caleb, who was 19 days old. She was convicted of murder in the deaths of her other three children: Patrick in 1991 at 8 months, Sarah in 1993 at 10 months, and Laura in 1999 at 19 months. Folbigg said she had discovered all of the deaths.