Experts blame genetic mutation for Australian girl’s death

SYDNEY (AP) — A rare genetic mutation likely contributed to the deaths of two daughters of an Australian woman who was convicted of the murders, an investigation Tuesday by two genetic experts in Sydney said. Told.

An investigation examines new scientific evidence that Kathleen Forbigg’s four young children may have died of natural causes between 1989 and 1999.

Folbigg, now 55, was convicted in 2003 of three counts of murder and one count of manslaughter. But a recent genetic breakthrough has led more scientists to believe that her guilt has been cast into reasonable doubt.

Mette Nyegaard and Michael Toft Overgaard, researchers at Aalborg University in Denmark, are among the authors of a scientific article published last year about genetic mutations in Folbig and her two daughters, Sarah and Laura.

CALM2-G114R, a variant discovered nine years after Folbig’s conviction, can cause cardiac arrhythmias and sudden infant death.

“We think it’s likely that this mutation caused the death,” Overgaard told the investigation.

Nyegaard agreed, saying, “It looks like a bad variant.”

However, Folbigg’s two sons, Patrick and Caleb, did not have the mutation and died.

Caleb was born in 1989 and died 19 days later. A jury found it a lesser crime than manslaughter. Her second child, Patrick, was eight months old when she died in 1991. Two years later, Sarah died ten months after her birth. In 1999, Folbigg’s fourth child, Laura, died at the age of 19 months.

The inquiry, led by retired New South Wales Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, began Monday and is the second judicial inquiry into Folbigg’s conviction.

In 2019, an initial investigation by former District Court Chief Reginald Branch concluded that there was no reasonable doubt that Forbigg was guilty of murdering children. But that discovery came before a new study of genetic mutations in the daughters.

The next public hearing for the investigation is scheduled to be held next year.

Forbigg is serving a 30-year prison sentence that expires in 2033. She will be eligible for parole in her 2028.