After spending two decades in prison for the alleged murder of her four children, Kathleen Folbigg, once dubbed “Australia’s worst mother,” has had her convictions formally quashed by the New South Wales (NSW) Court of Criminal Appeal. This follows a landmark Special Commission of Inquiry that found reasonable doubt over her guilt and her subsequent pardon in June.
Folbigg, now 56, was initially convicted in 2003 on charges of three counts of murder and one of manslaughter following the deaths of her four babies between 1989 and 1999. The convictions were based on circumstantial evidence, including entries from her diaries, which were interpreted as admissions of guilt.
However, a retired judge, Tom Bathurst, re-examined the case and recommended her release in June, citing “reasonable doubt” as to her guilt. The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has now formally acquitted her of all charges, concluding one of the country’s most prominent miscarriages of justice.
The breakthrough came after a 2022 inquiry, which revealed a previously unknown mutant gene in Folbigg’s two daughters that could have been fatal. This genetic evidence created “reasonable doubt” about her convictions, leading to her pardon and, ultimately, the quashing of her convictions.
Outside the court, an emotional Folbigg thanked her supporters and expressed relief at having her name cleared. She criticized the legal system for blaming her instead of acknowledging that children can die suddenly and unexpectedly.
Folbigg’s legal team now intends to seek substantial compensation from the NSW government, emphasizing the need for reform in the legal system to prevent future miscarriages of justice. They are urging all Australian states to establish an independent body for review, such as a Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The case has prompted calls for a reevaluation of Australia’s legal system to ensure it is more scientifically informed, considering the pace of change in scientific discovery and technological advances. The NSW attorney general stated that compensation requests would be carefully considered in light of the significant events that transpired over the past two decades.
This acquittal marks the end of a lengthy legal battle for Kathleen Folbigg, who maintained her innocence throughout the ordeal and is now seeking justice and reform in the aftermath of the deeply flawed conviction.