Australia's 'worst female serial killer' to be released after 20 years in prison due to new evidence
| Last updated
A woman dubbed Australia’s ‘worst female serial killer’ is set to be released after 20 years in prison due to new evidence.
Kathleen Folbigg, 55, has spent two decades of her 25-year sentence behind bars after being convicted of the deaths of daughters Sarah and Laura and sons Patrick and Caleb, all four of whom died suddenly between 1989 and 1999.
She was jailed in 2003 on three counts of murder for the deaths of Sarah, Laura and Patrick, and one of manslaughter for the death of Patrick.
All four children died on separate occasions, aged between 19 days and 19-months-old.
Prosecutors claimed that Folbigg had smothered the children, having been the first to find each of them lifeless in their cribs.
They also claimed that four babies dying before the age of two within the same family was highly unlikely, also noting the contents of the mother’s diary – which contained passages interpreted as confessions of guilt.
However, there was no physical evidence that she had caused the deaths, with scientists now saying they may have died of natural causes.
Margaret Beazley, Governor of New South Wales, granted an unconditional pardon to allow Folbigg to be released from prison on Monday (5 June).
Speaking in a news conference, New South Wales State Attorney General Michael Daley said: “There is a reasonable doubt as to 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.
“Further, I am unable to accept the proposition that the evidence establishes that Ms Folbigg was anything but a caring mother for her children.”
Daley added: “Given all that has happened over the last 20 years, it is impossible not to feel sympathy for Kathleen and [her former husband] Craig Folbigg.”
After a number of previous appeals, a fresh inquiry was commissioned last year, following growing evidence that suggested a rare genetic mutation could have led to the deaths of Folbigg’s two daughters.
The inquiry, led by former chief justice Thomas Bathurst, was ordered after a petition was signed by 90 scientists, medical practitioners and related professionals, who believed it was ‘based on significant positive evidence of natural causes of death’.
Folbigg’s former husband Craig Folbigg had previously said the implausibility that four children from one family would all die of natural cases before the age of two was compelling enough to treat his ex-wife's diary entries as admission of her guilt.
His lawyer, Danny Eid, said his client’s view had not changed, telling CNN in a statement: “Mr Folbigg’s view of the guilt of Ms Folbigg has not changed whatsoever.
“Ms Folbigg has not been acquitted of the crimes, and her convictions are not displaced.”