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Australia's woman appears to be innocent after 20 years in prison for death of her 4 newborns

Australia's woman appears to be innocent after 20 years in prison for death of her 4 newborns Kathleen Folbigg faced a trial 20 years ago (Getty Images)

Kathleen Folbigg, an Australian woman who spent two decades in prison for the deaths of her four children, and was pardoned in June, had her convictions overturned by the state of New South Wales on Thursday. Convicted in 2003 of murdering three of her children and manslaughter of another, she plans to seek substantial compensation, according to The Guardian.

“For almost a quarter of a century, I faced disbelief and hostility,” Folbigg said.“I suffered abuse in all its forms. I hoped and prayed that one day I would be able to stand here with my name cleared. I hope that no one else will ever have to suffer what I suffered.”

Details of the case

Folbigg's conviction did not rely on medical evidence explaining the deaths of her four young children, aged between 19 days and 18 months. Instead, the prosecution heavily depended on Folbigg's diaries as alleged admissions of guilt, without presenting testimony from experts or scientific researchers.

The case against Folbigg also hinged on Meadow's Law, a controversial and now discredited principle asserting that three or more sudden infant deaths in one family should be treated as murders until proven otherwise.

Maintaining her innocence, Folbigg asserted that her children died of natural causes between 1989 and 1999. Initially, a 2019 inquiry reaffirmed her guilt.

But a second inquiry in 2022, led by a former chief justice, presented new evidence suggesting a genetic mutation in two of the children may have caused their deaths. Genetic evidence and new medical research by an international team of scientists discovered that two boys had variants of a gene known as BSN that "caused early lethal epilepsy in mice."

Folbigg was released in June after being pardoned.

Big compensation

According to Reuters, Folbigg's lawyer, Rhanee Rego, announced plans to seek big compensation for the wrongful imprisonment, without specifying an amount.

"I'm not prepared to put a figure on it, but it will be bigger than any substantial payment that has been made before," she said.