Imagine if we judged her wrongly
Canadian legal academic Emma Cunliffe has written an article for The Guardian about Kathleen Folbigg asking “She killed her four children – but what if we got it wrong?”
Cunliffe (pictured above in an interview for ABC News) wrote a book earlier this decade called ‘Murder, Medicine & Motherhood’ about Kathy’s conviction. She spent six years researching the case and concluded Kathy shouldn’t have been found guilty based on the evidence presented in court.
As early as 2012, Cunliffe wrote to the attorney general requesting an inquiry into her convictions, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Why would the attorney general make such a monumental decision without intense public pressure?
Finally, in March this year, Cunliffe got her inquiry, after incredible perseverance on the part of Kathy’s supporters, friends and legal team.
It should have been a chance for the NSW government to ensure that justice had truly been served, but instead it became a witch hunt.
As Cunliffe notes, during Kathy’s time on the stand at the inquiry, she was “challenged 70 times to admit that she had smothered her four children”.
“When the questioning permitted, Folbigg explained that she blamed herself for her children’s deaths because she believed it was a mother’s responsibility to protect her children from every harm,” Cunliffe noted. “She described how her grief and depression compounded over the course of a decade of loss. Her diaries provided an outlet to which she confided her fears and in which she tried to find hope for a happier future. ”
However, her testimony was reduced by the media to “smirks” and a belief that supernatural forces had taken her children.
Cunliffe adds: “The press reports have largely ignored medical evidence heard by the inquiry that now establishes the likelihood of natural causes of death for each of Folbigg’s children: bacterial infection, epilepsy, a physical malfunction of the upper airways, myocarditis. In two of the children, sudden infant death syndrome would be an appropriate diagnosis. The doctors are unanimous that there is no physical evidence that any child was ever deliberately harmed, let alone smothered.”
In a tweet during the inquiry, Cunliffe wrote: “Kathleen Folbigg testified today at the Inquiry into her convictions. This Inquiry’s procedure has been unusual to the point of raising concerns – both about procedural fairness and about how well the truth seeking purpose of the Inquiry is being served.”