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Clemency Granted to Australian Woman Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

The state of New South Wales has pardoned a mother who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the murders of her four children after a court review determined there was cause for reasonable doubt regarding the initial convictions.

In 2003, Kathleen Megan Folbigg was found guilty of killing three of her children and manslaughtering a fourth.

Folbigg, 55, insisted on her innocence and claimed that the kids’ deaths were due to natural causes.

A preliminary investigation in 2019 discovered that the facts supported Folbigg’s guilt.

However, a second investigation under the direction of former Chief Justice Thomas Bathurst in 2022 reexamined her convictions in light of recent information that suggested two infants may have experienced fatal genetic mutations.

The infants died over a ten-year period, ranging in age from 19 days to 19 months.

In 1989, she gave birth to her first child, Caleb, who passed away 19 days later due to what a jury decided to be the lesser crime of manslaughter. Patrick, her second child, passed away in 1991 at the age of eight months.

At 10 months, Sarah passed away two years later. Laura, Folbigg’s fourth child, passed away at the age of 19 in 1999.

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One of the factors that prompted the inquiry was the information that both girls carried an uncommon CALM2 genetic variation that was found in 2018.

On Monday, Folbigg was granted a pardon by New South Wales state attorney general Michael Daley after the Bathurst inquiry’s preliminary findings revealed reasonable doubt on each conviction.

The outcome today confirms that our judicial system can provide justice and shows that the rule of law is a crucial pillar of our democratic system, according to Daley.

Given everything that has occurred over the past 20 years, Kathleen and Craig Folbigg are inexcusably suffering.

Daley claimed that while Folbigg would be free to go, her convictions would be unaffected by the unconditional pardon.

Three of the children may have perished naturally, two may have perished as a result of the genetic mutation known as CALM2 G114R, and one may have perished as a result of an underlying neurogenic condition, according to Bathurst in a letter to the attorney general.

The prosecution’s case on the manslaughter of her fourth child was subsequently undercut by these doubts, according to Bathurst.

Furthermore, he added, “I am unable to accept the notion that the evidence establishes that Ms. Folbigg was anything other than a caring mother for her children.”

Folbigg was incarcerated for 30 years; his sentence was set to end in 2033. In 2028, she would have been able to apply for parole.