Australian Story will air an episode focusing on Kathy’s Petition on Monday August 13, at 8pm, called From Behind Bars.
Here’s what the press release from the ABC has to say about it
Kathleen Folbigg is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for killing all four of her young children.
She has her hopes pinned on a petition drafted by her legal team to the Governor of NSW, seeking a judicial review of the case.
The petition contains a report from one of Australia’s top forensic pathologists, Professor Stephen Cordner, who says: “There is no positive forensic pathology support for the contention that any or all of these children have been killed.”
Australian Story invited a second independent forensic pathologist based at Vancouver General Hospital in Canada, to examine the forensic evidence in relation to the death of Folbigg’s fourth and final child, Laura.
“I think this is an eminently fatal case of myocarditis,” Associate Professor Matthew Orde says, in relation to Laura’s death. Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, is known to cause sudden death in some children.
“On the basis of the medical evidence alone, I think this case certainly needs to be re-examined quite carefully,” he says.
In an Australian Story exclusive, Kathleen Folbigg speaks out for the first time about her case. During phone calls to a friend, recorded by the ABC, she candidly discusses life behind bars, her hopes for the petition and her view of some of the events leading to her multiple murder convictions.
Nicholas Cowdery, who was Director of Public Prosecutions for NSW at the time of Kathleen Folbigg’s trial, disagrees with the need for a judicial review.
“I have looked at the petition that Mrs Folbigg has lodged… I remain of the view that the jury was correct,” he says.
However Cowdery is critical of the time taken to process the petition. “The fact that the petition was filed three years ago, is concerning. I think this is an inordinate delay in dealing with the matter.”
For Kathleen Folbigg, now midway through her sentence, an answer can’t come soon enough. “For over three years now, we’ve been clinging to that little bit of hope.”
We are concerned by some of the views expressed by Cowdery, however we remain hopeful the report will be balanced and generally positive.
In 2015 a Petition (not the 10,000 signature kind – more like a submission with expert reports attached) was sent to the Governor of NSW suggesting that Kathleen Folbigg’s case should be reviewed because we feel that there is enough evidence to cause a sense of unease or disquiet about Kathleen’s conviction.
The experts who have kindly donated their time and considerable effort to this are:
Professor Stephen Cordner, forensic pathologist, who is head of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. He has prepared an incredibly detailed report in which he reviewed the forensic evidence presented at the trial, as well as all the autopsy reports and actual pathology slides for each child. This is what he said in conclusion: “If the convictions are to stand they must do so without the support of forensic pathology, and in Laura’s case at least, against the forensic pathology view.”
Dr Sharmilla Betts, clinical psychologist, after reviewing all the diaries and all the current research, concluded that Kathleen’s diary entries are completely consistent with the literature on grieving mothers who have experienced the sudden unexpected death of an infant. There was nothing in her diaries to suggest (even between the lines as the Crown suggested) that she killed her babies.
Dr Ray Hill is an emeritus professor in mathematics from the UK who said in his report that the “one in a trillion” statistic which was being yelled from the rooftops by the media before the Folbigg trial was, simply, wrong and probably had a significant influence on the jury. He says, (quite logically), that in fact if one child dies of SIDS, there is an increased chance of a second or subsequent baby in the same family also dying. So that’s the main thrust of what we have asked the Governor to consider. The Governor has sought advice from other sources, including the Crown who have also submitted a report.
The Attorney General has now been “considering” this petition and the Crown submission for two years, which we believe is nothing short of unconscionable.
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.