I was on the tellie and it was harrowing


I don’t hold much back at HouseGoesHome. It’s pretty out there.

So it’s bizarre that I find getting interviewed so harrowing.

I agreed to do two interviews about Kathleen Folbigg this week and I’ve felt a bit sick about them ever since.

I worry that I’ll stuff it up. I worry that my words will be twisted. I worry that I’ll hurt people …

The reason I was interviewed is because the NSW Governor will decide on Thursday what to do about a petition for a judicial review of the Folbigg case.

As The Newcastle Herald‘s Joanne McCarthy notes:

Newcastle barristers Robert Cavanagh, Nicolas Moir and Isabel Reed, and University of Newcastle Legal Centre director Shaun McCarthy, sent the petition to NSW Governor David Hurley on June 11, seeking a judicial review, after serious concerns about the convictions were first raised by legal academic Dr Emma Cunliffe in her 2011 book, ‘‘Murder, Medicine and Motherhood’’.

The petition has argued the Folbigg convictions were unreasonable in light of more recent knowledge about children’s sudden deaths, particularly relating to cardiac conditions, and the trial’s acceptance of a default diagnosis of murder after incorrect evidence about the incidence of four children’s deaths in one family.

The weight of new evidence was significant, the petition argued, and greater than the ‘‘unease and disquiet’’ standard required to justify a judicial review of the case.

One of the most compelling parts of the petition is a 120-page report by Professor Cordner, head of international programs at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, who found much of the forensic pathology discussed at the trial was ‘‘misconceived’’.

His report also states that the default diagnosis of murder was ‘‘wrong’’ and there was no forensic pathology support for the Crown case that Kathy smothered her four children between 1989 and 1998.

As for her diaries, a respected clinical psychologist found the entries were consistent with maternal grief reactions.

(Also, the bits that have been made public have invariably been taken out of context or truncated.)

I find it fascinating that people see those words from experts, yet don’t read them.

They blithely assert that justice has been served. They are so definitive, so certain.

It reminds me of a scene from the Monty Python film The Holy Grail.

Peasant 1: We have found a witch, may we burn her?
Vladimir: How do you known she is a witch?
Peasant 2: She looks like one!
V: Bring her forward
Woman: I’m not a witch! I’m not a witch!
V: ehh… but you are dressed like one.
W: They dressed me up like this!
All: naah no we didn’t… no.
W: And this isn’t my nose, it’s a false one.
(V lifts up carrot)
V: Well?
P1: Well we did do the nose
V: The nose?
P1: …And the hat, but she is a witch!
(all: yeah, burn her burn her!)
V: Did you dress her up like this?
P1: No! (no no… no) Yes. (yes yeah) a bit (a bit bit a bit) But she has got a wart!
(Peasant 3 points at wart)
V: What makes you think she is a witch?
P2: Well, she turned me into a newt!
V: A newt?!
(P2 pause & look around)
P2: I got better.
P3: Burn her anyway! (burn her burn her burn!)

Except this isn’t funny, because it’s real life.

My first interview aired on an SBS program called “The Feed.”

Joanne McCarthy and the lawyer who represented Lindy Chamberlain are interviewed for the segment and they are excellent.

Me, on the other hand, not so awesome.

I don’t say anything particularly pithy and I DO NOT have a TV face.

(I know, I know, it’s no time for vanity. Serious stuff is at stake. But I look terrible. Bags under my eyes, wrinkles … )

I’m all jittery because it would be so easy for the NSW Governor to say no. They don’t have to explain themselves, they simply have the power to shut it down.

And they’d be seriously tempted to … because the alternative is pretty spectacularly full-on.

Anyway, here’s a link to the SBS interview …


Let me know what you think.

Unless you’re one of these types …

Because I’m not in the mood for uninformed debate.



4 thoughts on “I was on the tellie and it was harrowing

  1. Makes my stomach churn for her and for Lindy Chanberlain. Kathleen obviously deserves this review.

    As for you, Alanah, you come across well. Nuthin’ to worry about!

    I’ve been watching the series ‘Rectify’ which stars Aden Young. It’s about a man you serves 20 years on death row and is them released on the basis on new DNA evidence. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking look at how a person struggles to readjust to normal life after such a long time in prison. Compelling viewing.

  2. It was a very personal perspective of the situation and I think you presented a believable and understandable view. Your comments regarding the sister were quite insightful, too.
    Reinforced by the various professionals, especially (for me, anyway) the Chamberlains’ solicitor, the interview was quite compelling…and I liked your shot at the former, drug addicted, prisoner’s vexatious commentary on Kathleen’s guilt.

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