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CHS brings you an excellent newly published paper by legally qualified former journalist Michael Nott. It deals with the Kathleen Folbigg case and addresses how mothers are convicted of murdering their children with no evidence other than unproven discredited theories from expert witnesses and when the causes of death can be natural. Here is the abstract and to download the full academically published paper click the title. It is published on the law website Networked Knowledge dealing with miscarriages of justice, law and the legal system.
THE CASE OF KATHLEEN FOLBIGG: MEDICAL EXPERT TESTIMONY, A SYSTEM FAILURE © MICHAEL NOTT 2014
‘People are … convicted for the illegal acts that they do’ Interview with Richard Refshauge, (then) director of Public Prosecutions ACT, 20 July 2004.
This article considers the two discredited hypotheses of Sir Roy Meadow: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (‘MSBP’) and the ‘rule of three’ in relation to multiple infant deaths. These hypotheses are controversial. While appellate courts have either rejected them outright or called them speculative, they have been used to achieve convictions in other courts.
This article considers how these hypotheses were used in the trial of Kathleen Folbigg, specifically in the prosecution’s questioning and eliciting of witness responses. Although not acknowledged specifically by name, the hypotheses underlined the expert testimony of the prosecution witnesses, thereby creating a presumption of guilt. It is argued that this presumption was compounded by the use of exclusion evidence and the implied use of discredited statistical calculations previously utilised, and rejected, in the trial of Sally Clark.
These questionable hypotheses were rejected in a later similar Australian case.
There is a failure of courts in the Folbigg case to recognise that siblings could die for reasons that are natural. This article considers the view that evidence of significant bacterial infection cannot be ruled out as a potential cause of death in two of the Folbigg children, thus giving rise to the prospect of an unsafe conviction.
Folbigg, Meadow, cot death theory, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, MSPB, judicial failure, system failure, medical expert evidence, bacterial infection, statistics, sudden infant death, sudden unexplained infant death, rule of three.