Monday, March 15, 2004

SIDS & Homicide in Australia

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is broadcasting a show, "Of Woman Born," about the Kathleen Folbigg case. See http://www.abc.net.au/austory/

ABC's blurb about the two-part show – to be aired on the program “Australia Story” Monday, March 15, and March 22, at 8:00 p.m. “Australian time” (but which Australian time zone?) –, the blurb states:

This is the first of a special two-part program, revealing the untold story of the investigation that brought Kathleen Folbigg to justice.

Last year Folbigg was sentenced to 40 years jail for killing all four of her children, one by one, over a 10-year period.

The conviction made the 36-year-old New South Wales woman Australia's worst female serial killer.

But Kathleen Folbigg might very well have escaped justice had it not been for the dogged determination of a country detective and the unlikely alliance he slowly forged with Folbigg's doting sister, Lea Bown.

Using many hours of previously unseen home movie footage, Australian Story charts Kathleen's own fractured childhood from her arrival, as a three year old foster child, into the home of Lea Bown's parents, the Marlboroughs. Lea, who was 17 at the time of Kathleen's arrival, "idolised" the youngster and regarded her as a blood sister.

When Kathleen is 16 she learns the truth about her past - that her natural father stabbed her mother to death in a burst of rage.

Compelling home movie footage, along with personal letters, reveals Kathleen's subsequent journey through marriage to motherhood. The short lives of all four of her children are vividly captured on videotape. One after the other, there is a sudden death and then a new baby, and then another death. All the children die between the ages of 19 days and 19 months.

The first three deaths are all deemed to be from natural causes. But when Kathleen's fourth child, 19-month-old Laura, is admitted to Singleton Hospital on March 1, 1999 Detective Sergeant Bernie Ryan just happens to be on duty.

Ryan says "It was a very dark day... it was the day that changed my life."

It was just the start of a harrowing four-year battle for Ryan – and an emotional roller coaster for Lea Bown.

See also the account of the case at http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/women/folbigg/.

At Kathleen Folbigg's trial for homicide one expert testified that the probability that all four deaths were sudden infant deaths was one in a trillion.

What are we to make of Kathleen Folbigg's family history -- that her father had murdered her mother? Note that Kathleen Folbigg was not raised by her homicidal father.

Kathleen Folbigg's diaries were admitted into evidence. Would you prefer that they have been treated as sacrosanct and inadmissible at her trial?

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