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The Scientific Evidence That Set Kathleen Folbigg Free

Kathleen Folbigg has been released from prison after serving 20 years for murdering her four children. 

She was labelled as a “baby killer” and “Australia’s most hated woman”, but the new scientific evidence has proved her innocence.

Yesterday, she received the pardon she’s been waiting for, for over two decades. 

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On today’s episode of The Briefing, we are joined by Matthew Agius, science reporter at Cosmos Magazine and The Science Briefing, who explains how and why the decision has been made, and what it means for other court cases with similar findings. 

Last year, an inquiry was triggered after new scientific findings showed that Folbigg’s two daughters, Laura and Sarah, carried a rare genetic variation known as CALM2-G114R.

If you had a mutation to the genes that code for Calmodulin, you probably wouldn’t be alive, that was the long-held belief,”

Agius said.

He says these genes are very similar across many species and identical across vertebrate species. However, a recent study from Denmark changed it.

This group of Danish researchers discovered that some people on planet Earth today are walking around with mutations to these. They sometimes often have cardiac issues, but they are still able to live normal lives,”

Agius added.
Folbigg's two daughters, Sarah and Laura.

He says the rare genetic variation is only found in Laura and Sarah instead of Folbigg’s two sons, Caleb and Patrick, and the gene was inherited from their mother.

Given how few Calmodulin mutations exist and how they are very much all distinct, it would be unlikely that another non-related human (Folbigg’s husband) would perhaps have this one.”

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