After serving 20 years in prison, an Australian mother was pardoned for the murder of her four children.
In a news conference on Monday, New South Wales Attorney General Michael Daley announced that Kathleen Folbigg had been provided a “unconditional pardon” and would be released from prison “without delay” based on the preliminary findings of a review into her conviction, which noticed “reasonable doubt” about her guilt in all four deaths.
There is a reasonable doubt as to Ms. Folbigg’s guilt of manslaughter of her child Caleb, infliction of serious injury on her child Patrick, and murder of her children Patrick, Sarah, and Laura, as Daley stated during a press conference.
He has concluded that there is reasonable doubt as to Ms. Folbigg’s guilt for those offenses, Daley continued.
Folbigg was granted a pardon based on fresh scientific proof that her four kids died naturally.
The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Thomas Bathurst, undertook the review.
Folbigg, now 55, was convicted in 2003 of smothering four of her kids, Caleb, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura, all before they turned two. She allegedly discovered them, one by one, dead in their cribs.
She was sentenced to 40 years in jail for murder and manslaughter, with a 30-year no-parole term. Following an appeal, the sentence was reduced to 25 years.
Between 1989 and 1999, the four children died in different incidents. They ranged in age from 19 days to 19 months.
That has been an awful experience for all involved, and hopes that their actions today can bring this 20-year-old issue to a close, Daley added.
He also said that the decision had been communicated to the infants’ father, Craig Folbigg. He added that he was thinking of him as well today. It’ll be a difficult day for him.
Daley said that the Clarence Correctional Center, where Folbigg was serving her sentence, had been directed to “look after her” in the aftermath of the ruling.
He added that he believes they all need to put themselves in Ms. Folbigg’s shoes and give her the space she requires to move on with her life without harassing or pursuing her in any way. This has been a 20-year struggle for her, and if she isn’t already out, she will be soon. They wish her the best for the rest of her life.
Folbigg was freed from the Clarence Correctional Center shortly before 11 a.m. local time.
Daley also acknowledged during the press conference that Folbigg’s convictions had not been overturned. The only body that can do that is the Court of Criminal Appeal, he said. The impact of a pardon is that she will not have to serve the rest of her sentence. In 2021, a group of 90 scientists petitioned for Folbigg’s pardon for what they called “a miscarriage of justice.”
The experts said that there is no medical proof to back up the prosecution’s claim that Folbigg suffocated each of the infants. Rather, the organization believes the newborns perished as a result of hereditary factors.
According to the petition, geneticists discovered in 2018 that both Sarah and Laura have a hereditary mutation in the CALM2 gene, which may cause unexpected deaths in kids and newborns.
Scientists are still investigating if there are strong genetic ties to the boys’ deaths, according to pediatric geneticist Jozef Gecz at the time.
Patrick, who died at the age of eight months, had epilepsy, according to an autopsy done at the time of his death. His death was caused by airway blockage caused by a seizure and an illness.
Caleb died at the age of 19 days due to sudden infant death syndrome.
The scientists contended in the petition that Folbigg’s conviction is founded in part on the debunked notion known as “Meadow’s Law,” which holds that the chance of over two kids from one family dying from genetic reasons is so remote that there must be foul play involved.
However, Gecz, one of the 90 specialists who signed the petition and deals with kids with unusual and deadly impairments, emphasized that this is no longer a scientifically accepted idea.
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