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Australian Mother Pardoned After 20 Years in Prison

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An Australian woman who has been imprisoned for 20 years over the deaths of her four children was pardoned and freed Monday after new scientific evidence suggested they died of natural causes as she had always maintained.

Kathleen Folbigg, 55, received an unconditional pardon from New South Wales Gov. Margaret Beazley and was released from a prison in the city of Grafton.

New South Wales Attorney General Michael Daley told reporters he had recommended that Folbigg be pardoned based on preliminary findings from a second inquiry into her guilt by former state chief justice Tom Bathurst.

Folbigg was serving 30 years in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2028, five years before the end of her sentence.

An earlier inquiry, which ended in 2019, concluded that there was no reasonable doubt as to Folbigg’s guilt. The second inquiry was prompted by a 2021 petition in which 90 scientists and medical professionals argued that new scientific evidence “creates a strong presumption that the Folbigg children died of natural causes.”

Folbigg was convicted of manslaughter in the 1989 death of her first child, Caleb, who was 19 days old. She was convicted of murder in the deaths of her other three children: Patrick in 1991 at 8 months, Sarah in 1993 at 10 months, and Laura in 1999 at 19 months. Folbigg said she had discovered all of the deaths.

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