I had this wicked witch listed under a thread on High profile Convictions or somewhere a long time ago but when I read an article where she was writing to Media heavyweight Alan Jones like a giggling immature school girl I though it all needs to be dragged back to reality.
She murdered her infant children. Could of got away with it too. Have a read and let me know what you think. To get the current gist, here is the article I am talking about, followed by what this person has done ( I refuse to call her a mother)
IT IS A MUST READ AND A REMINDER WE MUST ALL BE VIGILANT
January 20, 2014
“Something I’ve always prided myself on over the years is always being different and separate from some of the worst criminals I have lived with,” she tells him in letters from her Silverwater Jail cell.
Jones believes the case against Folbigg is flawed and has backed a University of Newcastle Legal Centre bid for a judicial inquiry into her case this year.
“She writes a letter and I reply. We try to keep these peoples’ spirits up. It is an awful thing tobe locked away if you are innocent,” the 2GB broadcaster said.
He released the letters to The Daily Telegraph to highlight the “injustice” of the case against her. “Everyone needs someone to love them, don’t they?” he said.
“Surely we have an obligation to see that justice has been properly administered,” added Jones, who believes scientific evidence against Folbigg has been discredited.
But in a fresh twist, Jones called The Telegraph yesterday to say that, despite having visited Folbigg in jail and vigorously campaigning for a review of her case, he himself was not sure she was innocent.
Folbigg was sentenced in 2003 to 40 years, reduced to 30 on appeal, for the murder of three of her young children and the manslaughter of one between 1989 and 1999. She has served 10 years.
In the letters, Folbigg tells Jones how she has taken up painting and is looking forward to living in a granny flat in her best friend’s house in the country. She also talks about fellow inmates in the notorious high-protection child-killer wing of the jail. They include Kristi Abrahams, who killed her daughter Kiesha, 6, and Keli Lane, whose baby Tegan has never been found.
“I so don’t like being associated even in general with (the) likes of them. They are guilty and seriously not very nice women with many issues,” she says.
Folbigg clings to memories of her life before jail. “I have hung on to my 35 years of life (even as traumatic as it was) to any of the years that I would ever spend in here.
“Hung on to, a typical basically normal lifestyle. And even suffering so much death, disappointment and grief, it was a normal work, exercise, partner, home life. No drugs, no alcohol, no vices or excesses. So that makes me quite different to everyone in here. LOL,” she writes.
And then in a moment of reflections she adds: “Guess ‘normal’ is extremely suggestive isn’t it? Oh well, I hope you understand my jabbering on, on some level. Ha! LOL.”
She talks about hoping a judicial inquiry will have a “snowball” effect. “Of course my rational/logical side of me says ‘no guarantees’ and doubts about the success of it all are ever present. Especially as another week, another month, another year roll by. But that (is) to be human isn’t it? Full of hopes, dreams, doubts, determination. LOL. I have certainly come to discover that people care Alan.
“And it’s been quite refreshing. People say they care but actions don’t show it. The group of people I now include in my life, that’s including you too Mr, have undoubtedly shown me their hearts/minds and colour of their souls. LOL. Can’t ever ask for better than that in your life,” she writes.
Folbigg is relying on the team from the University of Newcastle Legal Centre gaining a judicial inquiry. Researchers also have argued she is the last serial child killer to remain in jail after the work of British serial child killer expert Sir Roy Meadow was discredited.
But Folbigg’s sister Lea Bown said the appeal was “a disgusting ridiculous joke. She has been found guilty by 12 jurors and there is no way those children died by anything other than her hand”.
Her Father’s Daughter – The Kathleen Folbigg Story
Against All Odds
When Kathleen Megan Marlbourough left school in 1982, she was 15. Like many kids her age with a limited education, she worked at several low-paying jobs before marrying at age 20. Her husband, Craig Folbigg, was a steel worker. He was 25. They settled in Mayfield, a suburb of Newcastle, Australia’s sixth-largest city an hour’s drive north of Sydney.
Within a year, Kathleen was pregnant. She gave birth to their first child a son, Caleb, in February 1989. At the time of his birth Caleb was described as full term and healthy.
Five days later Kathleen took him home. One morning while feeding him, Kathleen noticed that Caleb was having difficulty breathing and took him back to the hospital where doctors diagnosed him as having a lazy larynx.
At 8 p.m. on February 19, 1989, Kathleen put Caleb in his crib to sleep. At 2:50 a.m. the next morning, Craig Folbigg was awoken by his wife’s screams. Running to the sunroom where the baby slept, Craig saw Kathleen standing over the crib screaming, my baby, something is wrong with my baby.
Caleb Folbigg was dead at just 20 days old.
The official cause of death was listed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death.
Seven months later, Kathleen was pregnant again. She gave birth to another son, Patrick, in June 1990.
On October 18, 1990, Kathleen put Patrick to bed. Craig looked in on him at 10 p.m., and he appeared to be sleeping peacefully. At 3:30 a.m. the next morning he was again awoken by Kathleen’s screams.
According to the police statement, He rushed into Patrick’s room and saw his wife standing over Patrick who was lying in his cot. Mr. Folbigg picked up the baby and noted faint, laboured breathing. He commenced resuscitation until the ambulance arrived. Patrick regained consciousness, but was (later) found to now have epilepsy and be blind.
Patrick survived, but not for long.
On the morning of February 13, 1991, Kathleen called Craig at work, and, according to the police statement, said: It’s happened again. Craig left work and arrived home just as the ambulances came. Patrick was taken to hospital, but was dead on arrival.
An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death was an acute asphyxiating event resulting from an epileptic fit.
Following Patricks death, the Folbiggs moved to Thornton, a town northwest of Newcastle.
A year later, Kathleen was pregnant again. In October 1992, a daughter Sarah was born.
All seemed well until 11 months later when Sarah caught a cold and was having trouble sleeping.
By 1:30 a.m. the next morning Sarah was dead.
This time, according to the police report, Craig was awoken by Kathleens screams and saw her standing in the doorway of their bedroom. Sarah was lying in bed, motionless.
Her death was officially attributed to SIDS.
After Sarah’s death they relocated to Singleton in Hunter Valley, a popular wine producing area north of Newcastle.
The couple spent two years there before Kathleen became pregnant for the fourth time. Their second daughter, Laura, was born in August 1997.
Laura was apparently healthy when Kathleen brought her home three days later. Unlike her siblings, Laura’s breathing and sleep patterns were monitored closely for several weeks after her birth, just to be sure.
All was well until 19 months later when Laura caught a cold.
Kathleen gave her medication but at 12:05 p.m. on March 1, 1999, she called an ambulance after Laura allegedly stopped breathing. According to the official report, two ambulance officers arrived to find Kathleen performing CPR on her daughter on the breakfast bar. They examined Laura and found that she was not breathing and had no pulse.
As before, an autopsy was conducted but, unlike the others, the coroner considered Laura too old to have succumbed to SIDS, recorded her cause of death as undetermined, and ordered a police investigation.
When Detective Sergeant Bernard Ryan was assigned to investigate Laura Folbigg s death, he could have looked at the case as just one more tragic cot death. But, following the coroners finding, he decided to consider all the possibilities.
Detective Ryan began his investigation routinely by interviewing Kathleen and Craig Folbigg. When he learned that Laura was the fourth child to have died in a similar fashion, however, his suspicions grew.
Then the case took an unexpected turn. Kathleen, who had left her husband after Laura’s death, had moved out without taking many of her possessions. While Craig was cleaning up, he made an unpleasant discovery.
In a bedside drawer he found her diaries, whose contents, he later told the court, made him want to vomit. He took them to the police.
He told police that he had the odd suspicion,” but after finding the diaries his suspicions became horribly real.
Detective Ryan learned that Kathleen had been keeping diaries most of her life, but had thrown most of them away. The ones Craig found obviously had been overlooked.
Her entries indicated a woman torn by mixed emotions. On one hand, she wanted children to prove she could do it, just like other women could, and described the feeling of having a child growing inside her and being impatient for the birth: We’re all waiting, little one, when will you come?
On the other hand, she wrote about the frustrations of being a mother, including her inability to breast feed despite numerous, fruitless attempts with each child.
She also wrote about the resentment she felt after each birth when the attention shifted away from her to the new baby, describing it as a feeling of abandonment just like she had experienced as a child, where she was in a family but never felt like part of it.
She wrote about her wild mood swings and how she watched fish swim in a tank to try and calm herself: I don’t know, how do I conquer this? Help is what I want.
Her writings also disclosed her innermost fears. She worried that Craig would leave her. She felt threatened when he teased her about her weight, and wrote about how she couldn’t deal with his perpetual flirtations. At one point, when he rejected her advances because of her pregnancy, she wrote, Craig’s roving eye will always be of concern to me.
Must lose extra weight or he will be even less in love with me than he is now. I know that physical appearance means everything to him, she wrote.
When she was pregnant with Laura, she wrote: On a good note, Craig said last night he accepts that I’m not going to be skinny again. That’s wonderful, but I know deep in my heart he wants his skinny wife back.
Time after time she wrote about her weight and Craig’s preoccupation with it. Got to start changing my life and becoming a hot-looking energetic mother for my daughter and a sexy wife for my husband.
An entry on November. 13, 1996, indicated the isolation she felt, even from her own family. Why is family so important to me? She wrote. I now have the start of my very own, but it doesn’t seem good enough. I know Craig doesn’t understand. He has the knowledge and stability and love from siblings and parents, even if he chooses to ignore them. Me I have no one but him. It seems to affect me so. Why should it matter? It shouldn’t.
Once, she was home alone when a storm struck. She wrote how she was torn between wanting Craig home to comfort her and then not wanting him there because of how bad he makes her feel: I actually relish in the fact he has a weight problem now. All the years of him tormenting me have come back to get him.
Another entry searched for identity: Thirty years. The first five I don’t really remember, the rest, I choose not to remember. The last 10-11 have been filled with trauma, tragedy, happiness and mixed emotions of all designs. If it wasn’t for my baby coming soon, I’d sit and wonder again what I was put on this earth for. What contribution have I made to anyone’s life?
Other entries seem more sinister. She wrote how stress made her do terrible things and spoke of flashes of rage, resentment and hatred toward her children.
The diaries also indicate that she had no control over her depression and feelings of resentment. She wrote about wanting to wake her husband and ask for help.
One entry marked 9:45, Wednesday, June 11, 1997 reads: My brain has too much happening, unstored and unrecalled memories just waiting. Heaven help the day they surface and I recall. That will be the day to lock me up and throw away the key. Something I’m sure will happen one day.
Some entries spoke specifically about her treatment of her children: I feel like the worst mother on this earth. Scared that she [Laura] will leave me now. Like Sarah did. I knew I was short-tempered and cruel sometimes to her and she left. With a bit of help.
She’s a fairly good-natured baby – thank goodness, it has saved her from the fate of her siblings. I’m sure she’s met everyone and they’ve told her, don’t be a bad or sickly kid, mum may, you know, crack. They’ve warned her – good.
Other entries showed some remorse: My guilt of how responsible I feel for them all, haunts me, my fear of it happening again, haunts me.
When I think I’m going to lose control like last time I’ll just hand baby over to someone else … This time I’m prepared and know what signals to watch out for in myself. Changes in mood etc.
Faced with this damning, though circumstantial evidence, Sergeant Ryan began to build a case against Kathleen Folbigg. From the time he started the long process of interviews and depositions to compile a chain of evidence, Ryan was often warned by doctors that he faced an uphill battle proving his case in court.
But as he dug into Kathleen’s past, Ryan also uncovered a terrible secret.
My Father’s Daughter
On a December evening in 1969, Thomas John Britton confronted Kathleen Mary Donavan outside her home in the Sydney suburb of Annandale and stabbed her 24 times.
They had been living in a de facto relationship, and had an 18-month-old daughter.
At the trial six months later, a woman who witnessed the murder gave evidence against Britton. She testified that after brutally murdering Donavan, Britton had knelt down and kissed her saying: I’m sorry, darling. I had to do it. Allegedly he then turned to the witness and said, I had to kill her because she’d kill my child.
Britton was convicted of murder and sent to prison. The child was sent to a church orphanage. Twelve years later, Britton was released and deported to the United Kingdom.
The little girl stayed in the orphanage until she was three. At that time Kathleen Megan Marlbourough was adopted by a foster family who lived in the Newcastle suburb of Kotara.
Kathleen was an adult before she met her half-sisters and learned the truth about her parents.
On October 14, 1996, with three of her children already dead, Kathleen made a disturbing diary entry that indicated how the tumultuous events of her childhood had affected her: Obviously I am my father’s daughter. It was to be her undoing.
Detective Ryan took two years to assemble a case that prosecutors could try with a good chance of a conviction.
On April 19, 2001, Kathleen Megan Folbigg was arrested at her home, taken into custody, and charged with murdering her four children.
During her bail hearing at Maitland Local Court, Police prosecutor Daniel Maher told the court that the prosecution would show evidence from Folbigg’s own diaries, technical evidence from pathology experts, and testimony from her estranged husband to prove that Folbigg had killed her children.
While each child’s individual death had not raised much concern, Maher told the court, their collective deaths could only be attributed to suffocation.
He said the circumstances surrounding the deaths were not consistent with sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. This included the fact that each child was found face up, they were still warm when found and in two cases there were signs of life.
He also cited medical evidence from the United States, given by forensic pathologist Dr. Janice Ophoven that showed the chances of cot death being responsible were a trillion to one.
What that means is this is the only case that has occurred in the world. It’s just not likely.
He also told the court that Folbigg did not appear to grieve after each childs death.
Extensive tests had ruled out the possibility that the children suffered fatal genetic or viral disorders, he told the court.
While admitting that the diary entries were circumstantial, Maher argued that they contributed to her partial admission of guilt.
Brian Doyle, Folbiggs defence council, told the court the deaths were a coincidence adding, Every one of the children was in fact ill in their lifetime before their death.
He told the court that the medical experts the prosecution would call as expert witnesses had come to their conclusions after being supplied with Mrs. Folbigg’s diaries and other statements. So what we have got at the end, wholly and solely, is coincidences, he said.
After hearing submissions, Magistrate Richard Wakely refused bail and ordered Folbigg be held in custody to await trial.
During the two-month trial at Darlinghurst Supreme court in Sydney, the prosecution led by Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, Q.C., presented strong evidence that portrayed Folbigg as a woman preoccupied with her own life and looks, more interested in going to the gym and nightclubs than looking after her own children.
Focusing on the same evidence presented at the bail hearing, Tedeschi made the assertion that Folbigg had a low stress threshold and killed her four children by smothering each of them over a 10-year period because she could no longer deal with the day-to-day responsibility of being a mother.
Tedeschi also criticized Professor Hilton, the pathologist who had conducted Sarah’s post mortem examination. He had been wrong to attribute Sarah’s death to SIDS when he was aware of the family history, the prosecutor said.
He told the court that because of Hiltons finding a full police investigation or coronial inquiry was never called.
The court also heard that the chances of Laura dying of SIDS were extremely low because during her life she was exhaustively investigated, monitored and had lived beyond the SIDS danger period.
To support this theory, the prosecution called Dr.Christopher Seeton, the doctor in charge of the sleep investigation unit at Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital. Seeton told the court that Laura’s risk of dying from SIDS compared with other children was infinitely perhaps less than average, which is 1 in 1,000.
The crown also asserted that Folbigg avoided investigation because none of the children had shown signs of abuse so the matter was never reported to the Department of Child Services for attention.
The defence, led by lawyer Peter Zahra, refuted the claim and based their argument on the fact that the children had all been sick prior to their deaths.
To strengthen this argument, Zahra called Professor Roger Byard, a forensic pathologist who told the court that it was possible the children died from suffocation and medical problems relating to each of the four children could explain their deaths in isolation.
Considered an expert on cot deaths, Byard added: But the fact that there are all the other deaths in the family makes me less certain … I say undetermined because of the circumstances.
Asked in cross-examination whether it was possible the children had died from deliberate suffocation, Byard answered: It was a possibility, but declined to draw a stronger conclusion as he had not examined the death sites and the deceased children himself.
When questioned regarding the deaths of Patrick from epilepsy and Sarah from the heart disease, myocarditis, Professor Byard, said there was nothing in the pathology to show Patrick died of epilepsy, and added that only one child per year in Australia ever died of myocarditis.
Tedeschi shifted his attention to the incriminating diary entries claiming that they showed Kathleen Folbigg as deeply resentful of the intrusion her children had on her own life, in particular on her sleep, her ability to go to the gym, and her ability to socialize including going out dancing.
He drew attention to the fact that Folbigg was worried about her weight, telling the court: She was constantly preoccupied to an exaggerated degree on her weight gain due, in part, to the fact she couldn’t get to the gym because of her children,” he said.
He called witnesses to attest to the fact that Folbigg showed no obvious reaction to the deaths of her four children.
A hospital nurse described her as detached, and Deborah Grace, Folbiggs neighbour gave evidence that Folbigg was straight-faced after Laura’s death. There were no tears in her eyes. There was nothing, she told the court.
Folbiggs foster sister was also called and told the court that Folbiggs demeanour changed suddenly at Laura’s funeral from crying to being a totally different person. She was happy, laughing, enjoying a party.
During the presentation of evidence Folbigg remained calm, almost cool but during the fourth week of the trial she broke down as a video recording of her 1999 interview with police was played for the court. Crying uncontrollably, Folbigg attempted to leave the courtroom but was restrained by court staff and conveyed to a nearby hospital where she was sedated. The trial was delayed for several days while she recovered. When it resumed, Craig Folbigg was called to give evidence against his former wife.
In his testimony, he related the details of each baby’s death and described the terrifying growl that Kathleen would produce when she got frustrated with the children. He also told the court how Kathleen had pinned Laura to her high chair and attempted to force-feed her before dumping her on the floor with the words, “Go to your fucking father.” Several hours later, Laura was dead.
Two months after the trial began and the evidence presented, the lawyers for both sides completed their closing statements and the judge directed the jury to retire to consider their verdict. They returned in less than eight hours and told a hushed courtroom that they had reached a verdict. They found Kathleen Megan Folbigg guilty of murdering her four children.
As the verdicts were read, Folbigg broke down and cried and at one point turned toward her sister in the public gallery before slumping forward with her head in her hands.
She was taken to Mulawa Women’s Detention centre where she was placed in protective isolation, as women in prison take a very dim view of women who kill children, especially their own.
The following August she was returned to court to hear Justice Graham Barr officially sentence her to 40 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years.
Interviewed outside the court, Craig Folbigg dissolved into tears telling reporters, My humble thanks go to 12 people whom I have never formally met, who today share the honour of having helped set four beautiful souls free. Free to rest in peace finally.
Following the sentencing, Kathleen Folbiggs lawyers also made a brief statement indicating that they would begin working on an appeal at the first opportunity.
Several weeks after the trial, Folbigg wrote a scathing letter to the Sydney Morning Herald expressing her anger at the decision. It took four years to come up with a totally circumstantial non-factual, hearsay case, she wrote.
I now face being the most ‘hated’ woman around at the moment and death threats are a real consideration.
On the subject of her diaries she wrote: It’s a sad day when a mother can be put away for merely being a normal mother, who wrote down her emotions, anxieties and frustrations in bloody books.
She also defended herself against claims her demeanour was aloof and unemotional.
I didn’t have the choice to be any other way, she wrote. I would not have been useful in my own defence. The day may come where it is time to release it all, but till my battle is done in clearing my name and reputation, that day is not yet.
She also lashed out at her former husband saying he had betrayed her.
I have already suffered greatly at the hands of Craig and his capability to deliver with his tongue and his quite amazing ability to turn simple into exaggerated and extravagant tales.
Looking for Answers
Following the trial, Melbourne University Associate Professor Anne Buist, an expert in post-birth psychiatric disorders, told reporters that genetic predisposition, along with the loss of her mother at a young age, could have led Kathleen Folbigg to murder her children. We know her father killed her mother, so we know there is potentially a genetic issue there, she said.
Professor Buist also discussed the issue of neglect or emotional abuse of young children. A lot of studies have shown this can affect your development very significantly, she said. Both your brain development, your actual structural biological development if it starts early enough, as well as development at the level of not having a good parenting model, self-esteem.
Leading Sydney forensic psychiatrist Rod Milton, who gave evidence at Ivan Milats Backpacker Murder trial also agrees that the genetic implications of the case could not be rejected. We can’t discount what the father said If I let her (mother) live she would have killed the kid’.
I mean, it might be true, and that raises the genetic issue . . . that maybe there’s some sort of genetic tendency. We’re in the land of not knowing, but to exclude it would be folly. The obvious genetic implications can’t be rejected.
I think she must have lacked empathy for them, otherwise I don’t see how she could have killed them,” he said.
When asked if he thought Folbigg was mad or bad, he answered, she certainly wasn’t mad. Whether she was bad is in the judgment of others and not for me to say.
When asked if it would be possible to rehabilitate her, he said, the idea of her being released while still of child-bearing age is one that doesn’t inspire much confidence.
According to the U.S. National Centre for Health Statistics, infant homicides are classified as deaths purposefully inflicted by other persons on children less than one year old.
Studies from the same source also indicate that homicide is the leading cause of injury deaths among infants under one year of age in the United States and is the 15th leading cause of infant mortality from all causes.
In Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology reports similar statistics: More infants under the age of one year are murdered each year in Australia than die in either motor traffic accidents, accidental poisonings, falls or drowning. Between 1989 and 1993 an average of 27 children aged under 15 were murdered each year in Australia. Almost two thirds of these children were aged five or less. Around half of all children killed by assault were under one year of age.
In a controversial article in Australia’s New Weekly magazine, Judy Wright, a criminologist at the Australia Institute of Public Safety in Melbourne, revealed the findings of her own investigation which she says shows that women are getting away with murder.
Her 1990 study revealed difficulties in prosecuting mothers that kill their children because a mother’s role is revered in society. Her study also indicates that when women are brought to trial for killing their children they mostly rely on mental disorders as their defence, she said. It’s all due to beliefs that no sane woman could be capable of wanting to kill her own child.
We look for explanations to say those mothers who kill must be sick not bad, just mad. Though we rather not think about it, women are capable of killing for the same reasons as men anger, revenge and power, she said.
To reach her findings, Wright examined hundreds of autopsy reports, coroner’s findings, Victorian Police homicide statistics and Supreme Court files as she investigated the deaths of seventy-four children between 1978 and 1990. She discovered that more than half had been murdered by their mothers, and in 11 cases women killed more than one child. Children had been drowned, set alight, stabbed, and suffocated and one baby had even been thrown out of a window by its mother who was furious at her partner for paying attention to their dog.
There were other deaths where mother’s sketchy explanations sounded suspicious, and 16 where the cause was undetermined. Many weren’t charged with murder, though there were clearly elements of rational planning in the offences. Those who were charged received lenient sentences after arguing they were traumatized, and others were given probation. Most were considered unwell and were treated accordingly.
As a result of her research, Wright also believes that many homicides have been falsely attributed to SIDS.
It’s a tragic excuse because it really devalues the pain of parents who genuinely lose children to SIDS she says.
Allan Cala, the forensic pathologist who voiced his suspicions after conducting an autopsy on Laura Folbigg agrees saying that homicide, accidental death and illness should be fully explored before reaching a diagnosis of SIDS.
He also believes that many pathologists give SIDS as the cause on death certificates to spare parents the trauma of a coronial inquest.
This may have also been the case for Kathleen Folbigg had it not been for her habit of writing down her innermost thoughts as without the damning evidence they contained she may never have been convicted or even brought to trial.
Even more disturbing is that at the time her case went to trial she was considering getting married a second time. She may have even considered having more children.
Here is an interesting addition, posted today on a sympathetic friend and blogger of Kathleen, called Alana House, who has a blog which can be found here. She is described as follows
Alana House is a blogger, mum and chook enthusiast (the live kind, not the fried kind, though she rather likes that too). Long, long ago she was a feature writer at Cosmopolitan magazine, where Mia Freedman sent her on crazy assignments to be a Dyke On A Bike at Mardi Gras and a judge at Miss Nude Australia. She went on to become editor of Woman’s Day magazine for five years. During her lunch breaks, she created and edited a series of children’s cookbooks: The ABC of Kids’ Cooking, The Nursery Rhyme Cookbook, Easy Kids’ Party Food, Easy As 1,2,3 and Fun Food. Follow her on Twitter (erratically) at twitter.com/AlanaHouse Visit Alana’s blog at housegoeshome.com
When Kathy met Alan (Jones) … In jail
By Alana House
January 20, 2014
After a decade of bone-crushing isolation and fear inside her cell at Silverwater Jail, there have finally been tantalizing glimmers of hope for my former school friend Kathleen Folbigg … and those who feel she didn’t receive a fair trial when she was convicted of murdering three of her children and the manslaughter of a fourth.
Among them is the decision by The University of Newcastle Legal Centre to work on a submission seeking a judicial inquiry into her case.
Another was the surprise appearance in the prison visitors’ room one afternoon of radio host Alan Jones that was revealed in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.
Kathy told me during my last visit to the jail that knew something was afoot when a buzz of excitement swept through the prison guards and an unusually large number of them suddenly decided they were needed in the visitors’ area.
She sat on her usual pink metal stool, bolted to the floor. To her surprise, Alan walked into the room and sat opposite her on one of the visitors’ blue metal stools, also bolted down.
The mutual friends who had arranged the meeting procured snacks of Mars Bar Pods and Kettle Chips from the junk food machines in the hallway and placed them in plastic bowls on the little bolted-down metal table in front of them, like some Tim Burton-style nightmare version of a fairy toadstool picnic.
Kathy wore a white canvas jumpsuit, secured with an electrical cable tie at the neck, and a pair of ugly, green Dunlop sneakers. Alan wore his signature sports jacket and a broad smile.
They chatted for over an hour and she was charmed by his open attitude towards her plight.
For the 10 years prior her only visitors have been a handful of friends and a dedicated group of Salvation Army members who offer support.
Kathy had become resigned to being branded a cold-blooded child killer who deserved to be locked away for 26 years.
Having Alan visit – and offer his very public support on the cover of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph – is a sign that the tide of public opinion may finally be turning.
Alan told journalist Matthew Benns (who previously wrote a book called “When The Bough Breaks” that actively condemned Kathy as a murderer) that after reading academic lawyer Emma Cunliffe’s book “Murder, Medicine and Motherhood” about the court case: “I am persuaded that the expert evidence is not convincing at all.”
Alan’s public support is a powerful thing. Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger, for example, told ABC’s Lateline after the 1998 federal election that he knew who to thank for the Howard government’s narrow victory: his friend Alan Jones.
Alan has a loyal and trusting radio following. He speaks out and people listen, they believe.
Alan notes to Benns: “Having met the woman I find her a very courageous woman and an outstanding person who faces this injustice with great dignity.”
There are many, many issues that I vehemently disagree with Alan Jones upon. There are many, many things that he’s said in the past that I find distasteful. His views on Julia Gillard and her father dying of shame being a disturbing case in point.
(UPDATE: And his decision this morning to release private letters from Kathy to The Daily Telegraph distressed me – Kathy will be mortified and disappointed. How can he not realise how much more difficult he has made her life behind bars?)
But his words about Kathy yesterday were spot on.
I can never imagine having her courage. Prison is a terrible place full of terrifying people and, as Alan notes: “Society collectively should be concerned if a woman’s lying in jail, convicted for (killing) four children, if she didn’t do it.”
When Kathy finally steps outside those prison walls – whether in one year or 15 – she will have nothing. No home, no money, no family. She has lost them all. The Salvos promise someone will be there to meet her when she is freed. But then what? How does she successfully re assimilate into society after being incarcerated for so long, when she’s hated by so many?
I’ve written blogs about Kathy and the vitriol they inspire is fascinating:
“She murdered her little babies after she snapped when they wouldn’t stop crying. She’s a cold, evil and manipulative woman who deserves to rot in jail.”
“She was cruel and evil. I shudder to think of what those poor little babies went through.”
“This woman killed her kids. There are no ifs or buts. She’s a cold-blooded killer. End of story.”
But it’s not the end of the story for me. My world isn’t so black and white. The possibility an innocent woman has been jailed haunts me.
I think I would go mad, locked away for so long, the world believing I murdered my own children. But Kathy is strong, she always has been. She believes her difficult past has helped her survive prison, without it she might have gone mad.
And now she needs to remain strong and not let her hopes get too wild. Because while a wave of public support, a visit from Alan Jones and a campaign by The University of Newcastle Legal Centre are thrilling developments there’s still a long and fraught battle ahead before a judicial inquiry is even countenanced, let alone successful.
But I look forward to visiting her in a few short weeks, hugging her tight and hoping her barrister gets that miracle chance to prove whether justice was indeed done. Time will tell alana, something those kids never got…
Below is a PDF of all court judgements in one document.