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Kathleen Folbigg’s supporters call for immediate release after inquiry casts doubt on conviction

Kathleen Folbigg’s supporters are calling for her immediate release from prison, labeling her imprisonment a 20-year “injustice” after a recent inquiry found reasonable doubt in her conviction for killing her four children.

The inquiry into Folbigg’s conviction has given hope to her friends and loved ones, who believe that she could soon be freed. Both the counsel assisting the inquiry and the Director of Public Prosecutions accepted that there was reasonable doubt as to her guilt.

Folbigg, who has maintained her innocence since being jailed in 2003, is hopeful that the inquiry could lead to her convictions being quashed by the Court of Appeal. She is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

The inquiry was set up to consider the possibility that the Folbigg children died of natural causes, and a string of medical experts gave evidence about a genetic mutation known as CALM2 G114R, which could have resulted in the deaths of Laura and Sarah. The experts also suggested that Patrick’s sudden death may have been caused by epilepsy.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Sophie Callan SC, said in her closing submissions on Wednesday, “The ultimate submission of counsel assisting is that on the whole body of evidence before this inquiry, there is a reasonable doubt as to Ms Folbigg’s guilt.”

New expert medical evidence published in March 2021 cast doubt on Folbigg’s guilt after it showed that Sarah and Laura Folbigg carried the CALM2 genetic mutation, which can cause irregular heartbeats and lead to sudden death.

Outside the inquiry on Wednesday afternoon, Folbigg’s long-time supporter and friend Tracy Chapman called for her immediate release, saying, “If there’s empathy and humanity in this space, the judge after hearing what he’s heard, I would love him to give her parole now. But ultimately I’d love a pardon. We’ll take what we can get at this point. Bring her home.”

Folbigg’s counsel, Dr Robert Cavanagh, also told the inquiry that there was reasonable doubt about her conviction. He added that despite being labelled a “baby killer,” she rejected being anything other than a loving mother.

The inquiry has also looked at diary entries made by Folbigg, which have been used as evidence of her guilt in the past. However, Ms Callan said that the expressions of guilt and self-blame were cast in a “very different light” given her mental and emotional state, including grief and a major depressive episode.

The inquiry will conclude with remaining closing submissions on Thursday, and Justice Tom Bathurst KC will deliver his findings at a later date. If Bathurst finds there is reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt, he can refer her case to the Court of Appeal where her convictions could be quashed. He can also send his report to NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, who can issue Folbigg with a pardon.