I’m writing this post while hooked up to a Neuroptimal machine – it assesses whether your neural pathways are blocked and helps clear them.
My friend Tracy bought it to help her son who has ADHD and thought it might do me some good too, so I’m having a session on it.
Apparently my brainwaves are very active, surprise, surprise.
As I type it’s playing music and making little clicking and scratching noises while it explores my brain.
Tracy and another old friend Megz stayed at my house last night after spending the day at Lidcombe coroner’s court for the hearing into Kathleen Folbigg’s convictions. (The main pic is them outside the court.)
I couldn’t be there, but it sounds like it was a pretty intense day with very uncomfortable seats.
Tracy ducked out at one point to give a radio interview to the ABC. Click here to listen to it.
There wasn’t enough time last night for us to discuss everything that’s been happening in the case, as it’s been a crazy few weeks.
We briefly chatted about the 60 Minutes story that aired on Sunday night, which saw reporter Tara Brown question an expert called Dr Ophoven, who admitted she had incorrectly relied on the controversial – and now discredited – Cot Death Theory in her assertions about Kathy’s case. Made famous by British Professor Roy Meadow, it stated that one cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious, three murder.
Dr Ophoven expounded the theory during an eerily similar trial to Kathy’s – that of fellow Australian Carol Matthey, who was accused of killing her four children, Jacob, seven months, Chloe, nine weeks, Joshua, three months, and Shania, three and a half years old, between 1998 and 2003. She said that chance of four unexplained infant deaths from natural causes was one in a trillion.
The theory sent several UK mothers to jail in the lead up to the Folbigg trial.
But a fundamental statistical error in Meadow’s Law eventually saw the theory discredited and multiple murder convictions overturned.
In the UK alone, four grieving mothers who had been falsely accused and wrongly convicted walked free.
When 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown questioned Dr Ophoven on the validity of the theory, she confirmed she “was incorrect” concerning the statistical rarity of so many children from one family dying of natural causes.
“I was just citing previous literature – Roy Meadow,” Dr Ophoven said.
“I would never say that now, but I wouldn’t change my diagnosis now.”
Clinical psychologist Dr Sharmila Betts, who examined Kathy’s entries, also told 60 Minutes that in her opinion not even her darkest writings were enough to convict her.
“The diaries reveal a tortured mind, and I’d be very surprised if there are not millions of mothers who think like that,” Betts said.
ABC journalist Quentin McDermott wrote a story yesterday that discussed new evidence in the case that argues there are plausible natural causes of death for Kathy’s children.
In it, he revealed Kathy’s third child, Sarah Folbigg, may have died earlier in the night than previously thought, in August 1993.
Consulting forensic pathologist Johan Duflou said in his view, taking into account the temperature of the body and the stomach contents, “this would suggest that Sarah died closer to the time she was put to bed by [Folbigg’s husband] Craig at around 21:00 hours, rather than when found by Folbigg at around 01:30 hours.”
Professor Duflou’s view challenges the argument presented by the prosecution at Kathy’s trial that she was present with all four of her children when they died.
McDermott also noted that Allan Cala, who was the chief medical expert at Folbigg’s trial, is expected to give evidence today, as will Stephen Cordner, who did not give evidence at the trial, but who wrote a lengthy report that was attached to the petition, and John Hilton, who conducted the autopsy of Folbigg’s third child Sarah, and gave evidence at the trial.
“The ABC understands that Dr Cala stands by the opinion he expressed at Folbigg’s trial, that she smothered all four of her children,” McDermott writes. “But, both Professor Cordner and Professor Hilton disagree.”
In his report accompanying the petition, Professor Cordner wrote that: “If the convictions in this case are to stand, I want to clearly state there is no pathological or medical basis for concluding homicide.
“The findings are perfectly compatible with natural causes.”
He added: “Put simply, there is no positive forensic pathology support for the contention that any or all of these children have been killed.”
In his own statement submitted to the inquiry, Professor Hilton said he was “in substantial agreement with the comments, views and opinions” expressed by Professor Cordner in his report.
Significantly, Professor Hilton backs Professor Cordner’s view that Folbigg’s fourth and oldest child, Laura, died from natural causes — in this case the illness known as myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscles.
“Laura died with, and highly probably because of, florid myocarditis,” Professor Hilton wrote.
“There was no medical evidence demonstrable or demonstrated in the report of the post-mortem examination to support another cause for her death.”
Click here to read McDermott’s story, which resulted in the barrister acting for Kathy to be blasted by the judicial officer presiding over the inquiry into her convictions – former NSW District Court chief judge Reginald Blanch QC (above) – over the documents being leaked.
According to Tracy and Megz today will be a “bombshell day” in the case.
Oh, and as for my neural pathways … apparently one session isn’t enough to get the full impact, but Tracy reckons my brain isn’t too far off kilter, just a little stressed.
She’s promised to give me a few more sessions soon to get it back on track.
Song of the day: George Michael “Freedom”