The Case Against Kathleen Folbigg: Evidence SPLITS experts in new probe into mom who killed her 4 children

The Case Against Kathleen Folbigg: Evidence SPLITS experts in new probe into mom who killed her 4 children
Inquiry into Kathleen Folbigg’s children’s deaths to examine conflicting expert evidences (Australian Academy of Science/Twitter)

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: A fresh inquiry into Kathleen Folbigg’s conviction over the deaths of her four children has been resumed to reportedly examine the conflicting scientific evidence that a genetic variant cause their deaths; the inquiry will also look into whether her diaries, which played a pivotal role in her initial conviction, were a confession of guilt or the jottings of a 'grieving mother'.


Folbigg, 55, who is branded as “Australia's worst female serial killer”, was convicted in 2003 for the manslaughter of her firstborn Caleb, and the murder of her three subsequent children, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura. The infants, aged between 19 days and 18 months old, died under suspicious circumstances between 1989 and 1999. Folbigg, who has already spent nearly 18 years in prison, is serving a 30-year prison term with a 25-year non-parole period. She has denied wrongdoing and maintains her children died of natural causes. Despite multiple appeals, the mother has failed to clear her name, with a public inquiry in 2018 reinforcing her guilt, according to News.Au.


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In May 2022, NSW Governor Margaret Beazley ordered a fresh inquiry into the controversial case following a petition signed by 90 eminent scientists, science advocates, and medical experts. This came after new genetic evidence showed that Sarah and Laura Folbigg carried a genetic mutation that could cause sudden death and cardiac problems.


Why inquiry is re-examining Folbigg's personal diaries?

The second inquiry into Folbigg's convictions reopened on Monday, February 13 with Sophie Callan SC, Counsel assisting the inquiry, saying that the diaries would also be evaluated. During Folbigg’s initial trials, the prosecutors classified the diary, which apparently talked about her motherhood struggle, as her “admission to guilt”. In one entry, Folbigg talked about Laura two years before her death aged 19 months. “She’s a fairly good-natured baby, thank goodness, it will save her from the fate of her siblings. I think she was warned,” the mother wrote in the entry, which was reportedly penned in late 1997.

The inquiry learned that many specialists who examined the diaries after the trial had differing opinions on the "admissions of guilt" finding. Psychiatrist Dr Yumna Dhansay testified that Folbigg’s diaries “do not contain any admissions of guilt” and “should be interpreted as having been written by a grieving mother”, News. Au reported. Reflecting on the experts’ claims, Callan said Folbigg’s “diaries and journals ... did not span the entire decade from the birth of Caleb in 1989 to the death of Laura in 1999, but do cover the period February to March 1989, the year 1990, and then June 1996 to April 1998. There are also diaries for 1999.”


Were Sarah and Laura's deaths natural?

Furthermore, Callan also stated that the medical experts found a novel variant in Folbigg and her daughters’ genes. The variant reportedly produces the calmodulin protein, CALM2, which can cause cardiac arrhythmias – irregular heart rhythms – and sudden unexpected death. “The fact a carrier, Kathleen Folbigg, is alive and healthy suggests it is benign,” Callan said. “No expert is expected to [say] ... that the CALM2 G114R variant definitely caused the death of either Sarah or Laura Folbigg and equally no expert is expected to [say] ... the CALM2 variant could not possibly have caused their deaths. Rather, the experts divide on where in the middle ground they land, in terms of the likelihood that this novel genetic variant could have had any role to play in their deaths."

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 The Case Against Kathleen Folbigg: Evidence splits experts in new probe into mom who killed her 4 children