‘Australia’s worst female serial killer’: Kathleen Folbigg jailed over infant deaths pardoned
In one of the country’s greatest miscarriages of justice, a woman has been pardoned after 20 years in prison after new evidence suggested she wasn’t responsible for the deaths of her four children, aged between 19 days and 19 months.
Kathleen Folbigg – once branded “Australia’s worst female serial killer” – was jailed for at least 25 years in 2003, when a jury found her guilty of the murders of Patrick, Sarah, and Laura, and the manslaughter of her first son, Caleb, between 1989 and 1999.
Each child died suddenly over a decade, with prosecutors alleging she had smothered them.
But Folbigg had always maintained her innocence. Previous appeals and a separate 2019 inquiry into the case put greater emphasis on circumstantial evidence and found no grounds for reasonable doubt.
But a recent inquiry heard scientists believe the four children may have died naturally. At the inquiry, headed by retired judge Tom Bathurst, prosecutors acknowledged that research on gene mutations had changed their understanding.
NSW Attorney General Michael Daley on Monday announced Bathurst firmly believed there was reasonable doubt the woman was guilty. The NSW governor consequently signed a full pardon and ordered Folbigg’s unconditional and immediate release from prison.
She was released from the Clarence Correctional Centre, shortly after 11 AM. Nevertheless, the pardon does not erase the woman’s convictions. That would be for the Court of Criminal Appeal to decide, if Bathurst ever feels the need to refer the case to it.
It’s been a long ordeal for her, Daley said, adding his thoughts were also with the children’s father, Craig Folbigg.