Woman accused of killing her four children pardoned after 20 years

The pardon follows fresh scientific evidence her four children died from natural causes as she had insisted.

Kathleen Folbigg pardoned after 20 years in jail accused of killing her four children Getty Images

A woman has been pardoned and released from prison after serving 20 years in Australia for the death of her four children.

Kathleen Folbigg, 55, was released from prison in Grafton, New South Wales on Monday after receiving an unconditional pardon from Governor Margaret Beazley on the advice of the state’s attorney general.

The pardon follows fresh scientific evidence her four children died from natural causes as she had insisted.

A final report from the second inquiry into her guilt could recommend the state Court of Appeals quash her convictions.

New South Wales attorney general Michael Daley said: “There is a reasonable doubt as to Ms Folbigg’s guilt of the manslaughter of her child Caleb, the infliction of grievous bodily harm on her child Patrick and the murder of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura.

“I have reached a view that there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Ms Folbigg of those offences.”

Ms Folbigg had been serving a 30-year sentence that was to expire in 2033.

She would have become eligible for parole in 2028.

The children died separately over a decade aged between 19 days and 19 months.

Caleb was born in 1989 and died 19 days later in what a jury determined to be the lesser crime of manslaughter. Her second child Patrick was eight months old when he died in 1991.

Two years later, Sarah died at 10 months and in 1999, her fourth child Laura died at 19 months.

Evidence discovered in 2018 that both daughters carried a rare CALM2 genetic variant which was one of the reasons a second inquiry into her guilt was called.

In April, prosecutors acknowledged there was reasonable doubt about her guilt.

Lawyer Sophie Callan said expert evidence in the fields of cardiology and genetics indicated that the CALM2-G114R genetic variant “is a reasonably possible cause” of the daughters’ sudden deaths.

Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, was also a “reasonably possible cause” of Laura’s death, she said, adding there was “persuasive expert evidence that as a matter of reasonable possibility, an underlying neurogenetic disorder” caused Patrick’s sudden death.

Prosecutors had told the jury at her trial the similarities among the deaths made coincidence an unlikely explanation.

She was the only one at home or awake when the young children died and prosecutors told the jury her diaries contained admissions of guilt.

Her former husband, Craig Folbigg, said in submissions to the inquiry that the implausibility that four children in one family would die of natural causes before the age of two was compelling grounds to continue treating the diary entries as admissions of his former wife’s guilt.

But her lawyer said Ms Folbigg had been suffering a major depressive disorder and “maternal grief” when she made the entries.

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