Kathleen Folbigg has been pardoned and could walk from prison within days after spending 20 years behind bars for the deaths of her four children.
A seven-week trial in 2003 a jury found Ms Folbigg guilty of killing her four babies – Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura – between 1989 and 1999.
On Monday, NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said he had recommended to Governor Margaret Beazley she be pardoned and she had accepted the recommendation.
It followed an inquiry in April that heard credible evidence the children might have died of natural causes.
Mr Daley said Tom Bathurst, the former NSW chief justice, who led the inquiry, had “reached the view there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of Kathleen Folbigg” in the manslaughter of her son Caleb, the infliction of grievous bodily harm on another son, Patrick, and the murders of Patrick, and daughters Sarah and Laura.
“Considering … there is reasonable doubt as to Ms Folbigg’s guilt, I consider that his reason has established exceptional circumstances of the kind that weigh heavily in favour in the way of a free pardon and in the interests of justice, Kathleen Folbigg should be released from custody as soon as possible,” Mr Daley said.
“The Governor agreed. She has now been pardoned.”
He said Ms Folbigg was expected to be released from prison “without delay”. The ABC is reporting that Ms Folbigg has already been freed.
“I think we all have to do put ourselves in her 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,” Mr Daley said.
“It has been a 20-year ordeal for her. If she is not out already, she will be soon and we wish her well for the rest of her life.”
Mr Daley released a summary of findings prepared by Mr Bathurst.
“There is a reasonable possibility that three of the children died of natural causes,” it said.
Mr Bathurst was “unable to accept… the proposition that Ms Folbigg was anything but a caring mother for her children”.
Monday’s announcement followed submissions to the inquiry led by Mr Bathurst that included concession from the state’s top prosecutor that there was reasonable doubt about Ms Folbigg’s convictions.
She has served 20 years of a 25-year minimum sentence after a jury in 2003 convicted her of killing her children Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura between 1989 and 1999.
The inquiry heard diary entries made by Ms Folbigg as she dealt with her babies’ deaths were used as admissions of guilt at trial, but that purported proof was undermined by new scientific evidence and other developments.
Ms Folbigg has always maintained her innocence, saying Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura all died of natural causes.
Rare genetic variants later identified in Ms Folbigg and her daughters triggered the second inquiry into her conviction not long after a 2019 examination.
-more to come