The justice of science for Folbigg

Andrew L. Urban

Kathleen Folbigg’s case is finally heading to the Appeals Court where it is expected her convictions for the murder of her children will be quashed, after findings in the latest inquiry, completed earlier this year, digested the scientific evidence.

“The question must now be asked: how do we create a more science-sensitive legal system so that decisions in the justice system can be routinely informed by reliable evidence especially when it involves an understanding of complex and emerging science?” noted The Australian Academy of Science CEO Anna-Maria Arabia.

The Australian Academy of Science, which provided advice to the Bathurst inquiry, said it “applauded the New South Wales justice system for adopting mechanisms to have science comprehensively heard”.

Tom Bathurst KC, who led an inquiry into her convictions earlier this year, has released his final report and confirmed that he is referring the matter to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Evidence was presented to the inquiry that a genetic variant causing lethal cardiac arrhythmias had triggered the deaths of Kathleen’s two daughters, Sarah and Laura.

The report, released on November 8, 2023, concluded that “there is an identifiable cause of the death of Patrick, Sarah and Laura”, and, that it was “more likely” that an acute life-threatening episode suffered by Kathleen’s second child Patrick “was caused by a neurogenetic disorder rather than suffocation”. He also says the “reasonable possibility” that Kathleen’s first child Caleb died of unknown natural causes “has not been excluded”.

The law is slow

She had served 20 years in prison after being convicted of three counts of murder and one count of manslaughter over the deaths of her children Laura, Sarah, Patrick, and Caleb between 1989 and 1999. Kathleen was pardoned in June. No timetable has been set for Folbigg’s further appeal.

Her solicitor Rhanee Rego said the referral was “another significant positive milestone on Kathleen’s 24-year journey to clear her name”. Science was coming to the rescue of an innocent.

“Mr Bathurst found in the report that Ms Folbigg was ‘a loving and caring mother’,” Rego said in a statement.

“This finding reinforces a personal truth that Kathleen has held in her heart for more than two decades.”

Folbigg’s lifelong friend Tracy Chapman told The Australian: “Kath Folbigg thinks of her children every day and continues to grapple with the challenges of adjusting to life outside prison after 20 years of incarceration. Our hope is that the Court of Criminal Appeal will see the evidence with fresh eyes and exonerate Kathleen.”







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18 Responses to The justice of science for Folbigg

  1. Christie W says:

    It wasn’t Dr Colin Manock but Prof Kevin Cheney (the father of Ana-Jane Cheney) who was ill and thus wasn’t able to be called as the prosecution witness related to his conversation with Keogh about the life insurance policies.

  2. Brian Johnston says:

    If the guilty Keogh can receive millions

    How much ought the innocent Folbigg receive

    • andrew says:

      Keogh is guilty only in your mind…the appeal court exonerated him based on evidence. You can disagree, of course, but if you do, you have to produce evidence on which you base your claim.

      Irrespective of everything, Folbigg deserves hefty compensation.

      • Christie W says:

        Keogh wasn’t exonerated. A retrial was ordered by the Court of Criminal Appeals in December 2014. The retrial was called off by the prosecution mid-way through 2015 after one of its key witnesses fell ill.

        • andrew says:

          Well, not quite..
          1 The appeal court quashed his conviction; he was then legally innocent
          2 The court didn’t order a retrial but left it up to the DPP
          3 The DPP said he would try Keogh again, as a cynical cover for the mess – knowing full well that his only witness, Dr Colin Manock, would not be able to give evidence due to his well documented incompetence, not to mention the appeal was successful because of Manock’s incompetent evidence…

          • Christie W says:

            This is directly from the internet:

            “Today the appeal court set aside Mr Keogh’s conviction and ordered a retrial after ruling there was new information to suggest forensic pathology evidence presented at his trial almost 20 years ago was flawed.18 Dec 2014”

            By the way: I found out in early 2015 that Prof Kevin Cheney was ill.

          • andrew says:

            That’s more like it. Also from the internet: (
            South Australian DPP Adam Kimber has abandoned his attempt to re-try Henry Keogh for the 1994 murder of Keogh’s late girlfriend Anna-Jane Cheney, claiming his reason that a key witness is too ill. At first he didn’t name the witness; later the witness was named as Dr Colin Manock, the disgraced former head of forensic pathology in SA.

          • Christie W says:

            In other words, the court “ordered a retrial’.

          • andrew says:

            Apologies; on checking I find that the court said “The applicant should be retried.”

            I added my opinion: With respect to the Court, this view seems arguable: if there is no evidence to place Keogh at the scene of death and murder is not established by any other evidence, what evidence – even if motive was firmly established could be probative enough to warrant a retrial?

            To underline the matter, it’s worth noting that the Court found Professor Derrick Pounder’s* views ‘compelling’: “There is nothing in the medical evidence to raise the suggestion that the death was homicidal or to discount the death as being accidental.”)

    • Don Wakeling says:

      Brian, in coming to your view that Keough is guilty, have you totally forgotten the reports of the late Dr Vernon Roberts and the forensic tests (ordered by the Court) which firmed his opinions were correct ?
      No, Brian, the only guilt in the Keough case lies squarely on the head of the Chief Justice of South Australia who perverted the course of Justice by deliberately causing that expert medical opinion to be concealed for 10 years. And, apart from the Court of Appeal’s comment that no reason was presented to it for that situation, there has been no accountability and, in fact, a written refusal by the Sth Australian Attorney General (even this year) to hold an inquiry into the CJ’s perverse conduct.

  3. Tedious Ted Whalensky says:

    Andrew – Roberts enabled disposition seems a good thing to have – Australia sure is in a hell of a state . More disturbingly distressing than a 24 year wrongful Convictions is the scandalousy scurrilous and incompetant panzerkampfwagen servicing racket ! Why-just the other day – was turkied – like a DPPs screenplayed innocent ! The lane keeping steering interferenzschweihundpotentiometer seems terminally attracted to Corollas – Like Barristers to a cordon bleu filet mignon pie cart . Will Derek Bromley get a pittance after 50 years – Daryl Beamish was done like a frog in the AGs porcelain – the creaking police rope of Ray Bailey wakes me in fright – we are young and free-NO-we are being girted by humbug !

  4. Tedious Ted Whalensky says:

    Robert – Cheer up you old bugga –
    c’mon give us a grin –
    let us here you sing-
    always look on the bright side of life –
    life’s a piece of shit –
    when you look at it –
    some things in life are bad –
    they can really make you mad –
    if picking ya nose –
    causes dementia –
    well – I’m done for !

    • Robert Greenshields says:

      Try not to stress FTW, when I read of the resolute determinations of others to disrupt the cowardly conformity of the degenerative status quo, my disposition is enabled.
      Australia is in a hell of a state through the actions of cringe worthy conforming cowards who readily accept and adopt the cultures of hierarchical structures in the guise of faithful, and responsible”public servants”. Many make lifetime careers out of it, transferring from one government institution/authority to another. Policing forces have accepted many from other institutions, who more recently have made what can only be described as inglorious headlines across Australia.
      The unconditional renowned factor is that among many, their own recognition of the reality that they are fundamentally useless to man or beast, in any productive or intelligent manner is what drives many/most into pitiable organisations like the policing forces of Australian states and territories. As an ex volunteer FTW, I doubt you do not recognise what I am writing is factual.
      Australia needs those who embrace not accepting the cowardly, criminal, status quo; investigative journalists and their ilk, and the day when policing members and organisations are not afraid to stand up to the criminal activities and cultures/united collusion within the job, then I just might sing their praises too.
      Until then I will remain in steadfast opposition to accepting that they are community orientated, truthful organisations, based on credibility, honesty, integrity, impartiality, or professionalism. Take care and keep strong. Robert.

  5. Robert Greenshields says:

    Kathleen did not have the overwhelming influence of an organisation of the ilk of Freemasonry to assist in her struggling efforts to confirm her innocence Andrew, unlike another in the form of a claimed tyrant from our earliest years of colonial history, William Bligh, and more than likely many, many more since then if transparent and honest historical records and transcripts were to prevail and be available.
    Australia continues to regress under the weight of mates/brothers of many collegial organisations closing ranks to protect their very own, and irrespective of of our desires to believe organisations and administrations are apolitical and impartial, the reality is confirmed near daily through media releases that collusion and venality are still working hand in hand within our policing forces. The most recent exposures of the policing community and collusion in the ACT, in relation to the highly publicised NRL supposed stars fighting case, confirms the misnomer that policing is professional,
    practical, and impartial. For the Police Sergeant in that case to capitulate during his evidence as he did was absolutely unimaginable to me, but honesty prevailed and I couldn’t have breathed a greater sigh of relief for Australia.
    Injustice, along with deceit is the selected and readily consumed diet it seems, of the cringe worthy cowards who conform to established policing practices and cultures that continue to devalue Australia since the violent and volatile days of the extorting and exploiting Rum Corps.
    Culturally we have not advanced far, and that shame is shown in Sue Neill Frasers and Kathleen Folbiggs disgraceful experiences as victims I believe of policing and the judicature in Australia in the 21st century.

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