Kathleen Folbigg Exonerated
14 December 2023 - The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has today quashed the convictions of Kathleen Folbigg, who was convicted for the deaths of her four children in 2003. Ms Folbigg has maintained her innocence the entire time. She was pardoned in May after an inquiry into her convictions found that there was reasonable doubt about her guilt. The inquirer Tom Bathurst SC handed down his report in early November and referred the matter to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal. In a courtroom packed with Ms Folbigg’s supporters this morning, justice was at last delivered.
Greens MP and spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson said: “This outcome is bittersweet. While the moment of justice being delivered in the Court of Criminal Appeal was pure joy, it is inextricably linked to the gravest of injustice, namely wrongful conviction.
“The Folbigg matter has shone a light on how ineffective, discretionary and unfair our post convictions review system really is. The new evidence that led to Kath being exonerated first came to light in 2018, but the response was dependent on the decision of the Attorney General, which ultimately makes it a political decision. We need a post conviction review system that is based on procedural fairness, effective administration and the rules of evidence. Other jurisdictions around the world have had such systems for decades, NSW is an outlier. What happened to Kath and is still happening to other people across the state who maintain their innocence is wrong. We can and we must do better.
“The Attorney General must now take this moment to set up a Criminal Cases Review Commission that is tasked with reviewing cases like Kath’s and removing the political and discretionary influence on whether or not there should be an inquiry into a person’s case.
“Kath suffered the terrible loss of her children, then spent two decades in prison when she should not have. It was a fight even to the last minute to get her released. When Counsel Assisting the Inquiry into Kath’s convictions made a final submission that there was reasonable doubt about her guilt and the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed, it took the Attorney General a further month to release her. This is not how justice should work.
“The state owes Kath, but it can never give back what it wrongly took from her. It was only because of the staunch advocacy of her friends, supporters and legal team who always believed her and never gave up, that she is at last exonerated. Kath is now a strong advocate for a post conviction review system.” Ms Higginson said.