Alan Jones is the latest unlikely campaigner making a bid to free Kathleen Folbigg, the woman convicted of killing her four babies between 1991-99. He’s not the only one who believes the evidence against Kathleen is shaky at best. Former ivillage editor Alana House has been visiting Kathleen for years, and firmly agrees it’s time for review of her controversial case.
After a decade of bone-crushing isolation and fear inside her cell at Silverwater Jail, there have finally been tantalizing glimmers of hope for my former school friend Kathleen Folbigg … and those who feel she didn’t receive a fail trial when she was convicted of murdering three of her children and the manslaughter of a fourth. Among them is the decision by The University of Newcastle Legal Centre to work on a submission seeking a judicial inquiry into her case.
Another recent development was the surprise appearance in the prison visitors’ room one afternoon of radio host Alan Jones that was revealed in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.
Folbigg's was jailed for 40 years, reduced to 30 after an appeal. Jones' support follows the discrediting of evidence against her which was circumstantial and mostly focused on the struggles she revealed in her personal diaries.
Kathy told me during my last visit to the jail that knew something was afoot when a buzz of excitement swept through the prison guards and an unusually large number of them suddenly decided they were needed in the visitors’ area.
She sat on her usual pink metal stool, bolted to the floor. To her surprise, Alan walked into the room and sat opposite her on one of the visitors’ blue metal stools, also bolted down.
The mutual friends who had arranged the meeting procured snacks of Mars Bar Pods and Kettle Chips from the junk food machines in the hallway and placed them in plastic bowls on the little bolted-down metal table in front of them, like some Tim Burton-style nightmare version of a fairy toadstool picnic.
Kathy wore a white canvas jumpsuit, secured with an electrical cable tie at the neck, and a pair of ugly, green Dunlop sneakers. Alan wore his signature sports jacket and a broad smile.
They chatted for over an hour and she was charmed by his open attitude towards her plight.
For the 10 years prior her only visitors have been a handful of friends and a dedicated group of Salvation Army members who offer support.
Kathy had become resigned to being branded a cold-blooded child killer who deserved to be locked away for 26 years.
Having Alan visit – and offer his very public support on the cover of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph – is a sign that the tide of public opinion may finally be turning.
Alan told journalist Matthew Benns (who previously wrote a book called “When The Bough Breaks” that actively condemned Kathy as a murderer) that after reading academic lawyer Emma Cunliffe’s book “Murder, Medicine and Motherhood” about the court case: “I am persuaded that the expert evidence is not convincing at all.”
Alan’s public support is a powerful thing. Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger, for example, told ABC’s Lateline after the 1998 federal election that he knew who to thank for the Howard government’s narrow victory: his friend Alan Jones.