Kathleen Folbigg’s supporters have called for her to be immediately released from prison after counsel assisting an inquiry said there was now a reasonable doubt that she had killed her four children.
On Wednesday, the inquiry into Folbigg’s convictions entered its final stage with closing oral submissions as her supporters asked for her to be freed after 20 years in jail.
Folbigg, 55, was convicted of the murder of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura, as well as manslaughter of her first child Caleb, who all died between 1989 and 1999.
She has consistently maintained her innocence and denied killing her children but is serving a 30-year prison term.
After exhausting all her avenues of appeal, an inquiry in 2019 reinforced her guilt.
A second inquiry was called following lobbying from the scientific community after the discovery of what was described as fresh genetic evidence.
Kathleen Folbigg has spent 20 years in prison for the killing of her four children and had exhausted all of her appeals by 2019
An inquiry has been called after the discovery of what was described as fresh genetic evidence in the case (pictured: Folbigg prior to sentencing)
The inquiry, which is being overseen by retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Bathurst KC, was set up to consider the possibility the Folbigg children died of natural causes after a string of medical experts suggested there was a genetic mutation which could have resulted in the deaths of Laura and Sarah.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Sophie Callan SC on Wednesday said: ‘Our ultimate submission is on the whole body of evidence before the inquiry, there is a reasonable doubt as to Ms Folbigg’s guilt.
She also said that the Director of Public Prosecutions in written submissions had said that it was open to Mr Bathurst to conclude there was ‘reasonable doubt’ about her guilt.
New expert medical evidence published in March 2021 cast doubt on Folbigg’s guilt after it showed that Sarah and Laura Folbigg carried a genetic mutation – known as CALM2 G114R – which can cause cardiac problems and lead to sudden death.
DNA sequencing found that Folbigg and her daughters shared the variants, however 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 inquiry on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Folbigg’s long-time supporter and friend Tracy Chapman called for her to be released immediately.
Folbigg’s supporters have called for her to be immediately released
Longtime advocate Tracy Chapman (right) has said that she would like to see Folbigg receive a pardon
‘I want her home now, I’m ready to go and get her and bring her home,’ Ms Chapman said.
‘If there’s empathy and humanity in this space, the judge after hearing what he’s heard, I would love him to give her parole now.
‘But ultimately I’d love a pardon [but] we’ll take what we can get at this point.
‘Bring her home.’
She said it was ’emotional’ hearing Ms Callan’s submissions reinforce what she had believed for over two decades.
She said it as an ‘injustice that’s kept an innocent, grieving mother in prison for 20 years and she’s been through hell for 23 years.’
Ms Callan said the case against Folbigg remains circumstantial and that there was a ‘strong causal connection’ between the CALM2 variant and the girls’ deaths.
Though she noted not all experts share that view.
The inquiry also looked at diary entries made by Folbigg.
Folbigg was convicted of the murder of her son Patrick (right), as well as manslaughter of her first child Caleb (left)
Medical experts say there might have been a genetic mutation which caused the deaths of Sarah (left) and Laura (right)
Ms Callan said expressions of guilt and self-blame expressed in them were cast in a ‘very different light’ given her mental state at the time.
Ms Callan said that the diaries contained ‘no unequivocal evidence’ or any admissions that she was responsible for her children’s death.
Rather, Ms Callan said there were submissions made at trial that the diaries ‘could and should be read in that way’.
Ms Callan said that consideration should be given to Ms Folbigg’s mental and emotional state at the time.
Ms Callan on Wednesday told the inquiry that the discovery of the CALM variants ‘altered the balance of evidence’.
She said it was unlikely that all four children were smothered without leaving any physical signs.
Mr Bathurst will deliver his findings at a later date.
If Mr Bathurst finds there is reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt, he can refer her case to the Court of Appeal where her convictions could be quashed.
The inquiry continues.