Kathlrrn Folbigg (left) and Cadiz immunologist Carola García Vinuesa (right).
Cadiz scientist wins pardon for Australian woman jailed for 20 years for killing her four children

Cadiz scientist wins pardon for Australian woman jailed for 20 years for killing her four children

A study, led by immunologist Carola García de Vinuesa, points to a rare genetic mutation to explain the death of Kathleen Folbigg's babies

T. Nieva

Monday, 5 June 2023


Justice came, but 20 years too late. This is how one could sum up the case of Kathleen Folbigg, an Australian woman sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003 for the deaths of her four children, who has finally been pardoned by the New South Wales Attorney General, Michael Daley. This was all thanks to research led by Carola García Vinuesa, an immunologist from Cadiz, which presented "reasonable doubts" about her role in the children's deaths.

Folbigg, 55, known as "Australia's worst serial killer", was convicted of the murder of three of her children, and the manslaughter of her firstborn, between 1989 and 1999. The babies were aged between 19 days and 19 months. The defendant has always insisted on her innocence, claiming that all her children died of natural causes and not from suffocation, as prosecutors have claimed for two decades.

The review of this case has taken place after scientific research, which began in May last year, pointed to a possible genetic mutation that causes fatal arrhythmia. The key findings of this new report by the Andalusian scientist which has led to the pardon include "the reasonable possibility" that three of the four children died of natural causes.

Rare genetic mutation

Retired judge Tom Bathurst, who led the new investigation, said medical conditions were found that could account for three of the deaths. He said two girls had a rare genetic mutation while one boy reportedly had an "underlying neurogenic condition". Given these factors, Bathurst said the death of the fourth child was also not suspicious, adding that he was "unable to accept the proposition that the evidence establishes that Ms Folbigg was anything but a caring mother for her children".

In the end, the Australian judiciary finally surrendered to the evidence. "In the interests of justice, Kathleen Folbigg should be released from custody as soon as possible," Daley said on Monday. "I think we all have to put ourselves in Ms Folbigg’s shoes and let her now have the space that she needs to get on with her life and not to harass her or pursue her in any way," adding, "It has been a 20-year ordeal for her." "We wish her well for the rest of her life," the attorney general said, as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian Academy of Science, which assisted in the investigation, said it was "relieved" that justice has ruled on the side of Folbigg. In 2021, dozens of scientists from Australia and overseas signed a petition calling for Folbigg's release following the new analysis of the case.

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