Crime & Justice

Australia to review case of woman convicted of killing her 4 children

Sydney, Australia, Nov 14 (EFE).- Australian authorities on Monday began to review the case of Kathleen Folbigg, convicted in 2003 of killing her four children, after a group of scientists suggested the possibility that the babies may have died due to a rare genetic mutation.

During an initial hearing held on Monday in the justice department of the state of New South Wales, lawyer Sophie Callan – who is assisting the investigation – said that new discoveries have emerged in relation to the deaths of Folbigg’s children Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, who died between 1989 and 1999 at ages ranging from 19 days to 18 months.

Callan said that the deaths may have been due to genetic reasons according to the conclusion reached in 2020 by a group of scientists, coordinated by Spanish immunologist Carola García de Vinuesa and led by Denmark’s Michael Toft Overgaard.

The scientific study, published in the European Society of Cardiology’s journal Eurospace, linked a genetic mutation (CALM2) – present in Folbigg’s two daughters – with sudden cardiac death.

The variant, which has been found in Folbigg and her two daughters Sarah and Laura, is of special relevance, the lawyer said.

Moreover, the study – put together by an international group of 27 experts – showed that the children carried rare variants of a gene that kills rodents through epileptic attacks.

“It would be incorrect for the inquiry to only focus on the evidence going to the genetic variant,” Callan told investigators for the probe, which is set to last until Nov. 26 and would consider evidence over the mutations and cardiac failure.

Subsequently, between Feb. 13-25, psychological and psychiatric issues would be analyzed and the accused’s diaries would be examined. According to Callan, Folbigg is said to have a tendency to get stressed out and lose patience.

The case was reopened due to a letter sent to NSW governor general Margaret Beazley in March 2021 by over 100 scientists – including two Nobel laureates – calling for the acquittal and immediate release of Folbigg.

The woman, who was dubbed the “worst serial killer in Australia,” was initially sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing three of her children and manslaughter in the case of the fourth, although an appeal led to the term being reduced to 30 years.

Folbigg, who filed two appeals (2005 and 2011) and has had a judicial review of her case between 2018-2019 – which upheld the sentence – has repeatedly pleaded innocence and insists that her children died of natural causes in the city of Hunter Valley, around 120 kms north of Sydney.

All the children suffered from different ailments: the first, Caleb, had laryngomalacia, while the second child Patrick had severe epilepsy with blindness. Sarah was being administered antibiotics for a respiratory infection, while Laura – who had fever – suffered from myocarditis. EFE


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