After 20 years in prison for the murder of four children, Kathleen Forbigg has been pardoned and released.
New South Wales Attorney General Michael Daley said at a packed media briefing that he had received preliminary findings from a recent investigation led by former Chief Justice Tom Bathurst.
He said Mr Bathurst had concluded that Mr Kathleen Folbig was firmly held to the view that there was a reasonable doubt about her guilt.
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Longtime friend and supporter Helen Cummings speaks out
Helen Cummings said she has not yet accepted the decision to release her dear friend from prison.
“I couldn’t get the smile off my face and at first I was in tears,” she said.
“There was a little bit of tension, he said, a lot of disappointment.”
It’s a shame it took 20 years to get here, she says.
She pointed to Emma Cunliffe’s book, “Murder, Medicine, and Motherhood” Released in 2011.
“There was enough suspicion about that book that I should have looked into the original trial,” she said.
“But they didn’t,” she said, adding that the past decade had been a waste.
Folbigg had experienced so many disappointments that he “didn’t allow himself to have hope”.
“It’s a long process, Helen, you can’t expect too much. I can’t,” she recalls being told by Ms. Forbigg, who was visiting the prison.
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Daly said he sought legal advice over the weekend and weighed his options carefully.
“His reason, I believe, establishes the kind of exceptional circumstances which greatly favor the granting of a gratuitous pardon.
“And in the interest of justice, Mr. Forbigg should be released from custody as soon as possible.”
The Attorney General said he had met with New South Wales Governor Margaret Beasley this morning and advised him to exercise his royal prerogative of mercy and grant the prisoners an unconditional pardon.
“Mr Forbig has now been pardoned,” he said.
Mr. Daley said Mr. Forbigg was notified last night.
He said he spoke to Craig Forbigg, the father of four children, to inform him of the decision.
“I’m still thinking of him today,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough day for him.”
The pardon comes after a long campaign for justice by Forbigg’s supporters.
Activist Peter Yates said: “On behalf of the entire Kathleen Folbig team, today is a great day.”
“We are so happy for Kathleen, the poor innocent woman who spent 20 years of her life in prison for doing something she never did.”
Supporters said Folbigg was met at the prison gate by his childhood friend, Tracy Chapman, to spend time with him.
Green MP Sue Higginson said: “Justice is being done at this point and it’s not too soon.”
“Give all power now to Kathleen as she looks back on the 20 years she lost and seeks justice and redemption.”
Daley said the incident was a terrible test for all involved.
“With our actions today, I hope we can put an end to this 20-year-old problem,” Mr. Daly said.
“I am also grateful that in the event of a situation like this in New South Wales, review provisions are in place to ensure that justice is served in the end, even if it takes time. All citizens should do so.”
Forbigg, now 55, who has always denied killing his children Caleb, Patrick, Laura and Sarah, was found guilty of suffocating them in an circumstantial trial.
A recent investigation into her conviction, which concluded in April, found new scientific evidence suggesting the children’s deaths may have been natural causes.
Assistant Counsel for Sophie Curran SC said in her closing remarks, “The Counsel’s final submission is that there is a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Mr. Forbigg over the entire chain of evidence leading up to this investigation.” Stated.
Expert witnesses who participated in the investigation revealed that a rare genetic mutation, CALM2 G114R, may have caused the deaths of Laura and Sarah.
Dean Jordan SC Director, Trial Attorney for the New South Wales Attorney General’s Office, said the discovery of the genetic mutation would “fundamentally change our understanding of the circumstances leading to the girls’ deaths”.
Ms Jordan said no pathological evidence related to the death of each of Forbigg’s children was available when she went to trial in 2003.
There was also evidence that Caleb’s first child, Caleb, may have had a genetic disorder that predisposed him to epilepsy.
The investigation also said it was unreliable to rely on Mr Forbigg’s diary as a guilty confession.
At trial, the diary was deemed an admission of guilt, but experts who analyzed the diary for the first time told the judicial inquiry that it represented a depressed and grieving mother.
Ms Daly said she wishes Folbig the best for the rest of her life.
“I think we should all put ourselves in Folbigg’s shoes and give her the space she needs to live her life.
“It was a 20-year ordeal for her.”
It will now be up to investigators to decide whether to refer the case to the Criminal Appeals Court for consideration of whether to vacate the conviction.
In that case, Folbigg could sue the state of New South Wales for compensation or seek compensation.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-05/kathleen-folbigg-attorney-general-provides-update/102440136 Kathleen Folbigg pardoned after 20 years in prison for killing four children