"Proof that the rule of law is an important foundation of our democracy." Fulbig at the 2019 hearing (Photo: Reuters)
An Australian woman imprisoned for 20 years following the deaths of her four children was pardoned on Monday and released from prison. This followed an investigation that found there was reasonable doubt about the convictions of Caitlin Megan Fulbig, now 55.
Fulvig was convicted by a jury in 2003 of murdering her three children and killing her fourth son over a ten-year period, but she insisted they died of natural causes. A commission of inquiry into her convictions found in 2019 that the evidence reinforced the guilt of Fulbig, dubbed "Australia's deadliest serial killer."
But another investigation led by former Chief Justice Thomas Bathurst reviewed her convictions again last year after new evidence suggested that her children — Caleb, Patrick Sarah and Laura — may have died a natural death rather than been murdered.
New South Wales Solicitor General Michael Daly justified his decision to pardon her based on the findings of a recent investigation, which he said found there was reasonable doubt about any of her convictions. "Today's result is confirmation that our justice system is capable of delivering justice, and demonstrates that the rule of law is an important foundation of our democracy," Daly said. "Given everything that's happened over the last 20 years, you can't help but feel sympathy for Caitlin and Craig Fulbig."
Patrick (right) and Laura, two of Fulbig's four children (Photo: official website, screenshot)
The attorney general noted that while the pardon released her from prison, it did not overturn her convictions. It is unclear whether it will choose to appeal them in order to lead to their cancellation and later even significant financial compensation from the state for the injustice caused to it. Daly called for Fulvig to be given privacy so she could "get on with her life."
Summarizing the investigation to the attorney general, the former Supreme Court judge wrote that there was a reasonable possibility that three of the children died of natural causes — two due to a genetic mutation known as CALM2-G114R — and one due to a neurogenic disorder. According to him, due to the doubt that arose, thanks to scientific developments in the field, the prosecution's position regarding the killing of her fourth son was also undermined.
"Moreover, I cannot accept the argument that the evidence proves that Fulvig was not a mother caring for her children," he wrote.
Fulvig was greeted at the prison gates by her friends, who campaigned for her release. "You can't understand the wound she sustained," her lawyer said. "The pain of losing her children and nearly two decades in maximum-security prisons for crimes that science has proven never happened."
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