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Serial killer mum convicted of killing her four kids could be innocent, scientists claim

Serial killer mum convicted of killing her four kids could be innocent, scientists claim


A female serial killer jailed for murdering her four babies could be innocent, scientists say.

Experts are backing the claim the tragic tots could have died of natural causes rather than been killed by their mum Kathleen Folbigg.

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She is one of Australia’s worst serial killers but a growing number of scientists say the 53-year-old could be the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Folbigg, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2003, has now petitioned the New South Wales state governor for a pardon “based on significant positive evidence of natural causes of death” in all four cases.

She was convicted of murdering Patrick Allen, eight months, Sarah Kathleen, 10 months, and Laura Elizabeth, 19 months.



Patrick Folbigg was just eight months old when he died
Patrick Folbigg was just eight months old when he died

Folbigg was also found guilty of the manslaughter of 19-day-old Caleb Gibson. The deaths took place between 1989 and 1999.

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Her petition to the governor, lodged in March, carried the signatures of 90 scientists and medical practitioners.

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The killer’s sentence carries a 30-year term without parole.

Her appeal has been based on new scientific evidence including the children’s genome sequencing.

Shortly after the petition, three judges threw out her challenge to a 2019 decision by Justice Reginald Blanch to uphold her convictions.

After her latest court defeat, Folbigg said in a statement written from prison through her friend Tracy Chapman that the verdict and the petition raised “valuable questions about how we got here”.

Ms Chapman wrote: “Many international eyes are now on this case and there’re many more Australians rightly asking why Kath’s still in prison after 18 years when there’s mounting scientific evidence relating to her innocence.”

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Folbigg was convicted of the murder of Laura, who was 19 months old when she died
Folbigg was convicted of the murder of Laura, who was 19 months old when she died

Australian Academy of Science president John Shine accused the three appeals court judges of adopting the same “incorrect conclusions about the genetic evidence” as Mr Blanch.

Mr Shine said: “It is deeply concerning that there is not a mechanism to appropriately weigh up all medical and scientific evidence in a case of this nature.

“There is now an alternative explanation for the death of the Folbigg children that does not rely on circumstantial evidence.”



Tragic Sarah, who died when she was 10 months old
Tragic Sarah, who died when she was 10 months old

Folbigg was the first on the scene of each child death and an autopsy found Laura had myocarditis – an inflammation of heart muscle that can be fatal.

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Patrick suffered from epilepsy and his death had been attributed to an airway obstruction due to a seizure and an infection.

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The other two deaths were recorded as sudden infant death syndrome.



Caleb was only 19 days old when he died
Caleb was only 19 days old when he died

Paediatric geneticist Jozef Gecz, who signed the pardon petition, acknowledged the evidence of natural causes was stronger in the girls’ deaths than the boys.

But he said investigations were continuing into potential leads to genetic causes of the boys’ deaths.

The criminal case that helped convict Folbigg relied on interpretations of entires she made in diaries, one of which her estranged husband Craig read and reported to the police.





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