One of the most spectacular cases of judicial error in history, the tipping point was made thanks to evidence gathered by a team of geneticists
Kathleen Volpig was released today. If his name doesn’t tell you anything, it might just be a matter of time: his case does, in fact, contain all the necessary items It constitutes one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the world. after 20 years in prison and the stigma of being Australia’s worst serial killerthe woman—accused of killing all four of her children—was Science acquitted him. Many have also been activated for it Nobel Prizes: It has been proven, in fact, that children – who all died between 19 days and 19 months in the 1990s – suffered from: The genetic mutation is as rare as it is fatal. who crushed them. More confirmation It also turns out that Folbigg He is healthy carrier of the same mutation. Now the lady, who had long claimed her innocence, could receive standard compensation for the wrongful arrest and judicial ordeal she was subjected to.
Folbigg: The biggest mistrial in history?
The 55-year-old’s case has been described as one of the largest mistrial cases in Australia. fulpig, Imprisoned in 2003 For killing three of the children and killing her first son, Caleb, she was considered a maniac for years. Prosecutors at his trial claimed that his mother strangled them all.
The accusation was based on the treatise of a famous British pediatrician Roy Meadow:
“The death of a child is a tragedy. Two suspicious deaths. Three murders.”
The entries in her personal diary—where (understandably after such terrible losses) the mother anguished over the deaths of her children, describing how “guilt for them all” oppressed her—were interpreted by the prosecutor as an admission of guilt. despite of Autopsies did not provide physical evidence of suffocation or injury to the children.
Caleb is He died in 1989 at the age of only 19 days, and two years later the same fate befell his little brother Patrick.. The boy was eight months old and suffered from epilepsy. Years later, only 10 months later, Sarah died, followed in 1999 by the fourth and last daughter, Laura.
science turning point
The turning point came in 2021, when A team led by scientist Carola García de Vinuesa showed that the mother and two girls had a fatal mutation in the Calm2 gene.. In all likelihood, there was The presence of this gene caused irregular heartbeats and sudden death in the young during sleep. The Spanish researcher, now at the Francis Crick Institute in London, and her colleagues It showed that Kathleen Volpig’s two sons also had other genetic diseases. Patrick suffered from epileptic encephalopathy, while Caleb suffered from respiratory problems.
According to geneticists, the true cause of this death pathway will be the rare mutation in a gene called Calm2 that was detected in the mother’s DNA and in her two daughters, Laura and Sarah. These mutations are associated with the diseases they cause An irregular heartbeat, which in children can lead to cardiac arrest or sudden death. It is called a genetic disorder caused by the Calm2 gene Calmodinopathy is very rare. Among the advisors of Australian judges, a name also stands out Peter Schwartz, Director of the Center for Arrhythmias of Hereditary Origin at Irccs Auxologico in Milan Which confirmed that mutations in the CALM2 gene affect the electrical signal transmission in the heart: in 2013 It was discovered and published that mutations in this gene can cause sudden death in children, especially in the very young.
The turning point
Thus began the new investigation, led by the retired judge Tom Bathurstwhich the plaintiffs agreed to Research into genetic mutations has changed their understanding of infant mortality. On Monday, the NSW Attorney General, Michael Dalymentioned that there is a file reasonable doubt that Mrs. Volpig was guilty, Hence signing a full pardon and ordering Mrs. Volpig’s immediate release from prison.
“It’s been 20 years since her ordeal… I wish her peace,” Daly commented, adding that her thoughts were also with the children’s father, Craig Volpig, who split from the lady in 2000.
there Daley said the unconditional pardon does not override Ms. Volpig’s conviction. It will be a decision of the Criminal Court of Appeal. But if this happens a woman can Sue the government for millions of dollars in damages.
The Australian Academy of Science states this Case shows need for reform that makes the legal system “more sensitive to science”a plea echoed by Ms. Volpig’s lawyer.
Millionaire compensation? the previous
The case has been compared with Lindy Chamberlainwho was convicted in 1982 of the crimesKilled a nine-week-old daughterAlthough he claimed that A Dingo took the baby On the night of August 17, 1980, during a camping trip with the family. His body was never found. Her parents claimed she was carried away from their tent by a dingo; This account was not considered credible, and although the body, motive, and witnesses were not present, neither were the parents He was tried and found guilty of even murder, thanks to a piece of the girl’s dress found three years later near a dingo’s den New investigations were opened which led to the conviction being overturned; In 2012, 32 years after their deaths, Chamberlain’s version of events was officially recognized by the coroner..
after his release, Lindy Chamberlain was awarded A$1.3 million in compensation for wrongful detention and an amended death certificate for her child was issued.
Chamberlain was unjustly imprisoned, compared to Volpegg, for “only” three years. Proportionately, what could happen to a 55-year-old who was just pardoned?
“It is impossible to understand the wound inflicted on Kathleen Volpig – the grief over the loss of her children, from nearly two decades in maximum security prisons,” said Rani Rego’s lawyer.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”