Kathleen Folbigg was a loving mother of four children; Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura. On May 23, 2003, she was found guilty by jury of the murder of Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and guilty of the manslaughter of Caleb, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
There was no physical evidence the children were murdered. The prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence to present their case. Kathleen has spent the last 15 years in prison and continues to maintain her innocence.
In June 2015, three Newcastle-based Barristers submitted a Petition to the Governor outlining grounds upon which Kathleen’s convictions should be reviewed. This Petition contains fresh and compelling evidence consistent with Kathleen’s innocence, including a report from one of Australia’s leading forensic pathologists who concluded that there is no basis in forensic pathology that any of the children were smothered.
Three years later, Kathleen and her supporters are still waiting for the Governor to respond to the Petition.
A friend of Kathy’s has spoken to the 7.30 Report about the terrifying moment Laura Folbigg stopped breathing in her care.
After Laura, Kathy’s fourth child, was born Karren offered to help look after her and undertook a CPR course to ensure she was prepared for emergencies.
Karren was babysitting Laura one day while Kathy ran some errands. About 20 minutes after Laura fell asleep on Karren’s couch, Kathy called to check on her 12-month-old daughter.
Karen was shocked to discover Laura lying on the lounge, her face “a funny colour, like it had drained”.
“I actually got on the floor and bent over. I couldn’t hear her breathing, couldn’t feel her breathing. I sort of went into panic mode. I put my arms under her and scooped her up and was about to put her on the floor to start CPR, and she took a big gasp in and then a couple of breaths, and it was all good from there.
“But it was very scary. I believe she had stopped breathing. I did everything that I was trained to do to see whether she was breathing or not, and to me there was no breath, none at all.”
Dr Matthew Orde, a forensic pathologist at Vancouver General Hospital, told the ABC it is possible Laura suffered an acute, life-threatening event, or ALTE.
“The episode described by Karren Hall, when Laura was 12 months of age, could well be an ALTE,” he said.
Karren’s experience with Laura raises the possibility that Kathy’s children had a genetic abnormality which rendered them at risk of sudden death.
However, at a directions hearing in Sydney earlier today, the presiding judge, Reginald Blanch, revealed Kathy’s ex-husband, Craig Folbigg, refused to provide DNA evidence to a lawyer ahead of the inquiry into the deaths of their four children.
Craig filed a complaint with the Law Society of NSW about being contacted by his ex-partner’s legal team.
The court heard a DNA sample had already been provided by Kathy for genetic testing. The inquiry will now ask Craig to provide a sample as well.
Meanwhile, a confidential briefing note written by one of Australia’s top forensic pathologists has been obtained by the ABC which raises fresh questions about the conviction of Kathy in 2003 for smothering all four of her children: Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura.
A second directions hearing was held today in preparation for the inquiry into Kathy’s convictions.
At the hearing, further interested persons were able to seek leave to appear. The second directions hearing also provided the final opportunity for interested parties with leave to make submissions regarding the scope of the inquiry.
It was revealed during the hearing that Kathy’s ex-husband, Craig Folbigg (pictured above), had refused to provide DNA evidence to a lawyer ahead of an inquiry into the deaths of their four children.
Folbigg filed a complaint with the Law Society of NSW about being contacted by his ex-partner’s legal team.
Kathy has supplied a DNA sample from Silverwater Correctional Complex.
Justice Blanch said he’d recently met with geneticists who said DNA samples were important as they could overturn Kathy’s conviction.
“(We were) told in that meeting that it would be the best outcome if we had some DNA material from both Mrs Folbigg and Craig Folbigg,” he said.
Counsel assisting Gail Furness SC today said the inquiry should focus on new research and medical advances including multiple “natural” infant deaths in the one family. She suggested there could be three weeks of scientific and medical hearings before Kathy potentially gave evidence.
Blanch said he “would be happy” to call Kathy to give evidence in the upcoming hearings, adding “it would be a matter entirely for her”.
“In fairness to her, if she wants to give evidence she should be able to give evidence,” he said.
Hearings are anticipated to begin in the first week of March and the inquiry is expected to run for six to 12 months.