Woman dubbed Australia’s worst female serial killer cleared of murdering four young children

Kathleen Folbigg expected to seek big compensation package from NSW government

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 14 December 2023 08:17

Australia’s ‘worst serial killer’ cleared of murdering four children

Two decades after she was found guilty of killing her four young children and became known as Australia’s worst female serial killer, Kathleen Folbigg, has been exonerated of the charges.

Ms Folbigg, 55, had served 20 years of a 25-year sentence following her conviction for the murders of her daughters Sarah and Laura and son Patrick, as well as the manslaughter of another son, Caleb.

The deaths occurred abruptly between 1989 and 1999, with the children aged between 19 days and 19 months.

Prosecutors had claimed that Ms Folbigg smothered them, but further investigation suggested the possibility that they may have died of natural causes. Throughout the trial Ms Folbigg asserted her innocence.

On Thursday, New South Wales’s court of criminal appeal ruled that Ms Folbigg’s convictions be overturned. Judges ruled that there was “reasonable doubt” as to her guilt.

She is now expected to seek a big compensation package from the NSW government.

“My children are here with me today and they will be close to my heart for the rest of my life,” she told reporters outside court on Thursday after the ruling.

“The system and society need to think before they blame a parent of hurting their children,” she added.

She said she was grateful that science and genetics had given her “answers” as to how her children died.

“However, even in 1999, we had legal answers to prove my innocence, but they were ignored and dismissed,” she said.

Earlier this year, Ms Folbigg was released from prison following a pardon granted after an independent inquiry. In June, the inquiry considered new scientific evidence suggesting that her children might have died from natural causes or a genetic mutation.

At the time, NSW state attorney general Michael Daley said: “I am unable to accept the proposition that the evidence establishes that Ms Folbigg was anything but a caring mother for her children.”

Mr Daley said that the governor of NSW, Margaret Beazley, had granted an unconditional pardon, allowing Ms Folbigg to be released from prison.

“Given all that has happened over the last 20 years, it is impossible not to feel sympathy for Kathleen and [her former husband] Craig Folbigg,” Mr Daley added.

On Thursday, Ms Folbigg’s lawyer Rhanee Rego said she should be given compensation from the state. She would not elaborate further or give a number but told reporters that it would be “bigger than any substantial payment that has been made before”.

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