Folbigg inquiry hears mutated gene possibly explains cause of girls’ deaths, DPP acknowledges doubt

The inquiry into Kathleen Folbigg’s convictions for killing her four children has heard the presence of several medical pathologies in three of her four children provide reasonable explanations for their deaths.

Science has been at the forefront of this inquiry, with research into variations to two of the Folbigg children’s genomes – her daughters Sarah and Laura – prompting the New South Wales government to reopen investigation of her convictions.

Folbigg was convicted of murdering Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and of the manslaughter of her first child Caleb. She has served 20 years of a 30-year sentence.

The subject of that research led by an international team of researchers is a variation to a calmodulin-coding gene, CALM2. Counsel assisting the inquiry, led by Sophie Callan SC, told inquirer Tom Bathurst KC at the beginning of today’s closing submissions the variation known as G114R was a “reasonably possible cause” of Sarah and Laura’s deaths.

Additionally, counsel assisting found Laura’s myocarditis gave rise to a “strong causal connection” to her death, in addition to the CALM2 gene variation.

It also suggested the progression of Patrick’s epilepsy had a similar causative connection to his death.

No cause of death – beyond sudden infant death syndrome – has been proposed for Caleb.

What is calmodulin?

Counsel assisting the inquiry provides independent management of proceedings in support of the inquirer, including in the preparation and presentation of evidence and examination of experts to elicit facts. The inquirer, however, will make his own findings, considering evidence presented, and closing submissions this week.

Callan also indicated in her opening summary that the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions had accepted counsel assisting’s conclusion, and that the inquiry could conclude reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt now exists.

Representatives of Folbigg, her former husband Craig, the DPP and forensic pathologist Dr Alan Cala, who performed the post-mortem examination of Laura Folbigg, will also provide final submissions.

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