Experts on the stand in Folbigg inquiry

Proceedings were much quieter on the second day of the Kathleen Folbigg inquiry, without a camera in sight at Lidcombe coroner’s court.

Kathy’s friends Megan and Tracy say the second day in court went well, with four forensic pathologists giving evidence into whether there has been a miscarriage of justice in her convictions.

Megan was impressed with the expert opinions given regarding SIDS and the probable causes of death for Kathy’s four children.

For example, consulting forensic pathologist Johan Duflou noted that he believed Laura died from myocarditis and Patrick from a fit.

The petition that led to the inquiry included a report by Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine director Professor Stephen Cordner, who said the trial included evidence given under circumstances where a “default diagnosis of murder” was discussed.

“The default diagnosis of murder came into play as an incorrect inference arising from the following question which was asked of some of the doctors: ‘Have you ever heard of a family with three or four sudden unexplained infant or childhood deaths?

“The uniform answer was no, with the inference being that murder was therefore the only alternative. This default position was wrong.

“The fact that an infant can be smothered without leaving signs, the misunderstanding of asphyxia (in particular that it is a diagnosis and/or that it can be diagnosed), and there being no families in the literature with three or four SIDS, contributed significantly to a homicide hypothesis which in fact has little forensic pathology content.”

Questioned by counsel assisting the inquiry, Gail Furness, SC, about whether SIDS always meant a natural death, Professor Cordner stated at the inquiry that it did not.

“We all understand whenever we use the word or term SIDS, there’s always the possibility there may be an unnatural explanation, or there may be a natural explanation we can’t uncover,” he noted.

“So to the extent there was a thought that SIDS was a natural cause of death, I’m not sure I’d completely agree with that.

“It is a term some people may hear as natural death, but I don’t believe that forensic pathologists generally believe they are absolutely saying it is a natural death.”

The second day of the inquiry mainly focussed on Kathy’s first child Caleb’s death, with discussion of the other autopsies to continue on day three.

Pictured: Kathy’s lawyer Jeremy Morris SC.

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