Kathleen Folbigg’s supporters have called for an immediate release from prison after counsel assisting an investigation said there was now a reasonable doubt that she had killed her four children.
On Wednesday, the investigation into Folbigg’s convictions entered its final stages with oral arguments concluded as her supporters called for her release after 20 years in prison.
Folbigg, 55, was convicted of the murder of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura, as well as manslaughter of her first child Caleb, all of whom died between 1989 and 1999.
She has consistently maintained her innocence and denied killing her children, but is serving a 30-year sentence.
After exhausting all her appeal options, a 2019 investigation confirmed her guilt.
A second investigation was initiated after lobbying from the scientific community following the discovery of what was described as new genetic evidence.
Kathleen Folbigg served 20 years in prison for the murder of her four children and had exhausted all her appeals by 2019
An investigation has been launched following the discovery of what was described as new genetic evidence in the case (Photo: Folbigg pre-conviction)
The inquiry, led by retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Bathurst KC, was set up to consider the possibility that the Folbigg children died of natural causes after a range of medical experts suggested there was a genetic mutation that could have led to until the death of Laura and Sara.
Sophie Callan SC, the counsel who assisted the inquiry, said on Wednesday: ‘Our final submission concerns the whole body of evidence before the inquiry, there is reasonable doubt about Ms Folbigg’s guilt.
She also said the Director of Public Prosecutions had said in written submissions that Mr Bathurst was free to conclude that there was ‘reasonable doubt’ about her guilt.
New medical evidence published in March 2021 cast doubt on Folbigg’s guilt after it emerged that Sarah and Laura Folbigg carried a genetic mutation – known as CALM2 G114R – that can cause heart problems and lead to sudden death.
DNA sequencing showed that Folbigg and her daughters shared the variants, but Caleb and Patrick did not.
The gene produces the calmodulin protein, CALM2, which affects the opening and closing of channels in the heart.
Outside the investigation on Wednesday afternoon, Tracy Chapman, a longtime supporter and friend of Ms Folbigg, called for her immediate release.
Folbigg’s supporters have called for her immediate release
Longtime advocate Tracy Chapman (right) has said she would like to see Folbigg pardoned
“I want her home now, I’m ready to go get her and take her home,” Ms. Chapman said.
“If there is empathy and humanity in this room, after hearing what he heard, the judge would like him to parole her now.
“But in the end I’d like a pardon (but) we’ll take what we can get at this point.
“Take her home.”
She said it was “emotional” to hear Ms Callan’s entries confirming what she had believed for more than 20 years.
She said it as an “injustice that kept an innocent grieving mother in prison for 20 years and she went through hell for 23 years.”
Ms Callan said the case against Folbigg remains circumstantial and there was a ‘strong causal link’ between the CALM2 variant and the girls’ deaths.
Though she noted that not all experts share that view.
The study also looked at Folbigg’s diary entries.
Folbigg was convicted of the murder of her son Patrick (right), as well as the manslaughter of her first child Caleb (left)
Medical experts say there may have been a genetic mutation that caused the deaths of Sarah (left) and Laura (right).
Ms Callan said expressions of guilt and self-blame expressed therein were cast in a ‘whole different light’ given her mental state at the time.
Ms Callan said the diaries contained “no unequivocal evidence” or admissions that she was responsible for the deaths of her children.
On the contrary, Ms Callan said comments were made at trial that the diaries ‘could and should be read that way’.
Ms Callan said Ms Folbigg’s mental and emotional state at the time should be taken into account.
Ms Callan told the inquiry on Wednesday that the discovery of the CALM variants “has changed the balance of evidence”.
She said it was unlikely that all four children were smothered without leaving any physical signs.
Mr. Bathurst will report his findings at a later date.
If Mr Bathurst finds that there is reasonable doubt about Folbigg’s guilt, he may take her case to the Court of Appeal, where her convictions may be overturned.
The investigation continues.