Categories: News

Kathleen Folbigg inquiry to examine role of novel genetic variant

A new investigation into Kathleen Folbigg’s conviction for the deaths of her four young children will explore a new genetic variant she shares with her two daughters that could question her guilt after nearly 20 years in prison.

Folbigg, now 55, was convicted in 2003 of the murder of three of her children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and the manslaughter of her first child, Caleb. She was also found guilty of one count of maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to Patrick.

Kathleen Folbigg during the 2019 inquest into the case.Credit:

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Sophie Callan, SC, one of a trio of defense attorneys assisting the investigation into Folbigg’s convictions, gave an opening address Monday ahead of a first tranche of hearings. She said the genetic variant, known as CALM2-G114R, was identified in Folbigg and her daughters Sarah and Laura, but was not found in Caleb or Patrick.

FOLBIGG RESEARCH

  • Under criminal appeal and review legislation in NSWthe governor may instruct a bailiff to investigate a conviction when “it appears that there is doubt or doubt as to the guilt of the convict … or as to any portion of the evidence in the case.”
  • This is the second investigation into Kathleen Folbigg’s 2003 convictions for the murder of three of her children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and the manslaughter of her first child, Caleb.
  • Former NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, KC, is leading the investigation. He will consider whether there are reasonable doubts about Folbigg’s guilt. If so, he can refer the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal to determine whether her convictions should be quashed.

The variant was “never seen before in the scientific community” and can “cause cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death in young children,” Callan said.

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According to NSW lawthe Governor may instruct a bailiff to investigate a conviction if it is found that “there is doubt or doubt as to the guilt of the convicted … or any part of the evidence”.

This is the second investigation into Folbigg’s case, after a 2019 report concluded that there was no reasonable doubt about her guilt. New research and advances in medical science led to the announcement of a second investigation in May this year, led by former NSW chief Tom Bathurst, KC.

Callan said no expert called to testify during the investigation was expected to tell Bathurst that the genetic variant definitely caused the deaths of Sarah and Laura, but neither was an expert expected to say it was impossible. .

“Instead, the experts divide into that middle ground in terms of the likelihood that this new genetic variant played a role in their deaths,” she said.

Jacky

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