Yesterday was beyond harrowing for Kathleen Folbigg and her supporters.
Kathy took the stand during the third week of the judicial inquiry into her convictions.
I couldn’t be there after a week away up the coast, a holiday booked long before the inquiry dates were announced.
But my friends have been keeping me up to date with Facebook posts and messages.
They are pretty devastated by the way the inquiry is being handled.
According to my friend Tracy: “This week will go down in history as a true reflection of all that’s wrong with how women are treated in a legal system that unconsciously detaches itself from the realities of a woman’s lot as a mother, with its related challenges, expectations, desires, concerns and frustrations.”
Dr Emma Cunliffe, who wrote the book “Murder, Medicine and Motherhood” about Kathy’s conviction, agreed. She tweeted: “Kathleen Folbigg testified today at the Inquiry into her convictions. This Inquiry’s procedure has been unusual to the point of raising concerns – both about procedural fairness and about how well the truth seeking purpose of the Inquiry is being served.”
After watching the inquiry via video link at Silverwater Jail for the first two weeks, Kathy appeared in the witness box at 10am yesterday and was subjected to hours of intense questioning.
She broke down in tears – as did many of her supporters – when she described the moments she found her children dead.
“When I found the children I was always alone,” she told the court. “He (Craig) wasn’t the one who found them I was.”
When asked about a diary entry in which she wrote that she was worried about being alone with her child, Kathy said it referred to being “scared to death of not finding my child alive”.
She added: “I do feel responsible, I was their mother. I’ve always felt I didn’t do enough. Something went wrong and I was always searching for why.
“I was constantly doubting my ability as a mother.”
Kathy’s ex-husband sat in the public gallery during Kathy’s questioning, with his brothers, his solicitor and a barrister by his side.
My friend Megan was horrified to watch the Folbigg brothers smile as Kathy wept in court.
Eid previously told the media that Craig wanted to be certain all “reasonable and appropriate evidence” was examined and “in light of the fresh inquiry he wants to be sure nothing is missed that could be relevant”.
I remain baffled as to why making sure “nothing is missed that could be relevant” does not extend to Craig providing his DNA to the inquiry, which he has steadfastly refused to do.
While on the stand, Kathy repeatedly denied killing her children.
“I miss all my children all the time,” she said.
During questioning by the Director of Public Prosecutions barrister Christopher Maxwell QC, Kathy denied disposing of some of her diaries because entries about her dead children were “incriminating”.
“I have never hid my diaries,” she told the court. “They were always in places where people could see them.”
After being noticeably absent since day one of the inquiry, the court was inundated with media yesterday for Kathy’s appearance.
When Kathy gave her supporters in the public gallery a brief smile at one point, it was captioned by The Daily Mail as: “Serial killer Kathleen Folbigg has smirked in court ahead of giving evidence during an inquiry into her convictions for killing her four children.”
It’s a disturbing example of how the smallest, most innocent of gestures can be twisted. Kathy’s supporters tell me they are horrified that her acknowledgement of them has been portrayed this way.
Sadly, I’m not surprised that a well-intentioned smile from a woman who lost her children more than 20 years ago has been used against her in the press.
I await with trepidation the events that will unfold today, as emotions will be running high in the courtroom.
I had not expected an inquiry to be turned into such a combative pseudo trial. And, like Emma Cunliffe, I wonder about the true purpose behind the inquiry being held, because its sole focus seems to be justification of the court’s original decision.
Shouldn’t it be about making 100% sure an innocent woman wasn’t jailed?
That appears to have been lost in a quagmire of machismo and fear.
Kathleen’s ordeal has grieved me from the beginning and I am abhorred by the treatment she is still receiving. Her former husband should be court ordered to comply with any necessary tests. This outline of what happened to my family may be analogous with the medical issues of two of Kathleen’s infants.
I live in the Hunter Valley – almost 20 years ago a doctor asked for my medical history and explained a common form of malpractice i.e. many of her male peers elect to treat women presenting with signs of infection only symptomatically and ineffectively – husbands and/or partners should be treated simultaneously and with the woman’s full knowledge. My sons and I accessed medical records and everything was revealed. I lost my first baby at seventeen weeks but the necessary tests were not performed. Later my sons were delivered with the common clinical symptoms of infection, I was not informed and they were not treated. I underwent various non-indicated operations (assaults) and all my youngest son’s, and my, atypical pathology reports plus reports identifying infections had been reported to me as ‘normal’. The protracted tag-team malpractice resulted in the inevitable internal damages. Doctors I consulted for us had demonstrated an attitude of, ‘Let someone else pick up the problem’. Over the last 20 years I have been unsuccessful in finding a solicitor to handle my son’s claim for damages. I speak on his behalf and with his consent as from birth until his majority the doctors had breached their contract with me. Last year a human-rights barrister provided a Memo of Advice with dozens of evidentiary records attached but we are still unable to find a solicitor. Consequently the offenders and their like-minded colleagues throughout Australia hide behind a veneer of respectability.
M: 0408 114 904.
I am so, so sorry to hear that Diane. You poor thing. It is appalling that it is usually only those with the means can pursue justice.
I was so saddened by the reporting of this tonight on the news. They way they spoke of Kathy and her “bizarre responses” and manner in court under questioning.
Have the msm learnt nothing from the injustices that were done to Lindy Chamberlain. I wish that when reporting they could at least try to hide their bias against Kathy and report impartially and try to have an open mind to the fact that we know understand that it is very very possible for SIDS to run in families and for all of Kathy’s babies to tragically die from natural unexplained causes.
So very sad. Let us just hope that the judiciary hearing and examining the evidence are impartial and deal in the facts rather than the emotion.
I have been quite shocked at the reporting – I’m wondering if newspapers have always been so biased and I just didn’t notice before