After spending more than two decades in jail over the deaths of her four children before being pardoned and freed, Kathleen Folbigg has now been acquitted.
Folbigg was imprisoned in 2003 after being convicted for the deaths of her children—Sarah, Caleb, Laura, and Patrick—occurring between 1989 and 1999.
However, a recent inquiry into her murder and manslaughter convictions revealed fresh scientific evidence which found there was “reasonable doubt” regarding Folbigg’s guilty verdict.
Folbigg, who has always maintained her innocence, was released on Monday, June 5 after having completed 20 years of her 25-year sentence.
In a final report released in November, inquiry commissioner Tom Bathurst KC found there was an “identifiable cause” for three of the deaths and Folbigg’s relationship with her children did not support the case that she killed them.
The report was sent to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal and on Thursday, December 14 her convictions were quashed and a verdict of acquittal was entered as applause rang out through the court.
“While the verdicts at trial were reasonably open on the evidence available, there is now reasonable doubt as to Ms Folbigg’s guilt,” NSW Chief Justice Andrew Bell said.
“It is appropriate Ms Folbigg’s convictions … be quashed.”
Folbigg was joined in court by her best friend Tracy Chapman and her lawyer Rhanee Rego.
The appeal judges agreed with Bathurst’s finding that the mother’s diary entries – controversially used during her trial to help secure her convictions – did not contain reliable admissions of guilt.
Folbigg consistently told police and a previous inquiry the entries reflected her feelings of failure as a mother after the deaths of three of her children.
Folbigg’s lawyers have previously indicated the possibility of seeking compensation from the state.
The acquittal marks the closure of a profoundly sombre chapter in Folbigg’s life, the acquittal representing not only a legal triumph but also a personal victory for Folbigg, who endured the weight of accusations and lengthy imprisonment.
With the cloud of suspicion lifted, Folbigg can now focus on finding peace and rebuilding her life.