Woman dubbed 'Australia's worst female serial killer' is released after 20 years in prison
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The woman dubbed ‘Australia’s worst female serial killer’ has been released after serving 20 years in prison.
Kathleen Folbigg, from New South Wales, was jailed in 2003 over the deaths of her four children: Sarah, Caleb, Laura and Patrick between 1989 and 1999.
She was 20 years old when she married Craig Folbigg and within a year she became pregnant with Caleb who was born in February 1989. He lived for only 19 days.
The following year, the Folbiggs welcomed another son, Patrick, who died at eight months.
Just two years later their daughter Sarah died aged 10 months and in 1999 the couple’s fourth and longest lived child, Laura, passed away at 18 months.
The police investigation into the deaths of the four children began the day Laura died but Folbigg was not charged and arrested until more than two years later.
In 2003, Judge Graham Barr sentenced Folbigg to 40 years in prison.
The 55-year-old always maintained her innocence and claimed her children died from natural causes.
Folbigg lost an appeal to get her conviction overturned in 2021 which was launched and aided by a team of 90 experts, who all argued that the children died as a result of a genetic mutation.
The team signed a petition and sent it to NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, arguing that the 'miscarriage of justice' cannot be allowed to carry on any longer however Folbigg remained behind bars until today.
A second inquiry into her murder and manslaughter convictions heard new scientific and psychiatric evidence and found there was ‘reasonable doubt’ regarding Folbigg’s guilt.
On Monday (5 June), New South Wales Attorney-General Michael Daley said he advised Governor Margaret Beazley to grant the mother a pardon.
“This morning I met with the governor. I recommended that the governor should exercise the royal prerogative of mercy and grant Ms Folbigg an unconditional pardon,” he said, as per 7News.
“The governor agreed. Ms Folbigg has now been pardoned.”
Folbigg has been released from prison as of Monday morning local time, a spokesperson for Corrective Services NSW confirmed.
“It has been a 20-year ordeal for her,” Daley told reporters. “We wish her well for the rest of her life.”
Chief Justice Tom Bathurst advised there was reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt.
“I have reached the view there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Kathleen Folbigg for each of those offences,” he said in his summary findings.
Key points of Bathurst’s summary findings were released by Daley today which included that there is a reasonable possibility that three of the children died of natural causes, there is reasonable possibility that Sarah and Laura died due to a genetic mutation and mentioned he was ‘unable to accept… the proposition that Ms Folbigg was anything but a caring mother for her children’.
The unconditional pardon does not quash Folbigg's convictions, Daley noted. This would be a decision for the Court of Criminal Appeal, if Bathurst chooses to refer the case to it - a process which could potentially take up to a year.