Kathleen Folbigg case: why is she still in prison?

A year ago, a group of 90 eminent Australian and international experts petitioned the NSW Governor to pardon serial child killer Kathleen Folbigg. The petition cited new genetic evidence suggesting Folbigg’s four children may have died from natural causes.

A year later, the matter has functionally disappeared from view, leading to three Nobel Laureates and the outgoing and incoming presidents of the Australian Academy of Science to send a letter this week to NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman. 

“Australia’s leading scientists and the scientific community globally now understand that Kathleen Folbigg’s children tragically died from natural causes; it is time that the NSW legal system also accepts that a miscarriage of justice has occurred,” the letter states.

“It is the clarity of the scientific evidence that has compelled the domestic and international support from such a large and distinguished cohort of scientists and doctors.”

The outgoing Australian Academy of Science president, Professor John Shine, says Folbigg’s continued incarceration is untenable.

“Ms Folbigg is approaching her 20th year of incarceration despite scientific and medical evidence that provide reasonable explanations for the death of her children,” he says.

“We understand that the materials being considered are complex and detailed and our offer to the NSW Attorney General to facilitate a scientific briefing remains.”

In an effort to explain that complexity, Cosmos last March published a detailed explainer of the rare genetic mutation found in the Folbigg children, a comprehensive analysis of how science is presented and accepted in Australia’s legal system, and an expert briefing on whether scientific evidence is properly considered by our courts.

“I, along with colleagues, have written to the NSW Attorney General to express our deep concern about the disregard of scientific evidence in this case,” says Shine of this week’s letter.

“The obligation of the NSW Attorney General is to ensure the NSW legal system is just and efficient. To avoid further exacerbating this miscarriage of justice, the NSW Attorney General must expedite this matter and advise the NSW Governor to pardon Kathleen Folbigg and release her from jail.”

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