Kathleen Folbigg.
Kathleen Folbigg.

‘I didn’t kill them’: Baby killer’s court outburst

Serial child killer Kathleen Folbigg has declared she "didn't kill my children" in an emotional outburst in court.

The convicted killer has faced questioning over several diary entries that were used in the trial to convict her at the inquest into her convictions over killing her children.

At one point this afternoon, she became so emotional the court had to adjourn for several minutes while she had a glass of water, and when court resumed, she hit out at the line of questioning from Chris Maxwell QC for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"I don't know why any of my children died, but I didn't kill them," she said.

"I didn't kill my children and these diaries are just a record of how depressed (I was) and how many issues I was having."

Earlier, Folbigg hit back angrily over questioning of a phrase she used in a diary entry that was used as evidence in her trial. Mr Maxwell pushed the notorious child killer over the phrases she used in her diaries.

He asked her to clarify what phrases such as "dangerous mood" and "losing control" - which appeared in her diary - meant.

"In my most dangerous mood I'm not a very nice person to be around," she wrote in one of the entries, that was read out in court today.

The 51-year-old hit back saying: "Dangerous mood means depression to me. When I'm depressed or a little cranky, don't come near me."

However, it was one phrase in particular that Mr Maxwell kept pressing the convicted killer over - the meaning of an entry in which she described "snapping her cog".

In an entry where she wrote that she "missed" her daughter Sarah, her third child who died in 1993, Folbigg wrote how she takes the time to "figure out what is wrong instead of snapping my cog".

She wrote that: "Laura saved her life by being different to Sarah".

She explained in court today that she had a "sleeping issue" with Sarah - which she had described in her diary as a "battle of wills".

"Laura is different, she (Sarah) doesn't push my button anywhere near as much, which is good for her, that's all I can say," the diary entry stated.

Mr Maxwell said: "This is a child you say in an unexplained way and yet here you are four years after a death, noting characteristics about her which snapped your cog. Do you see anything heartless about that?" Mr Maxwell.

Kathleen Folbigg breaks down in court.
Kathleen Folbigg breaks down in court.

"No it's simply a diary where I'm reflecting and comparing," she said

Folbigg said that the phrase meant she was showing a "slight frustration", but Mr Maxwell put to her the expressions were different.

"I suggest to you that you used the term 'snapping (your) cog' as a mitigating term for something that you had done to Sarah in order to stop her living. What do you say to that?" Mr Maxwell said.

Folbigg replied, "No I wouldn't agree at all."

Folbigg said she would write in diaries rather than talking to her then-husband Craig Folbigg as "a release" or to vent, an inquiry into her convictions has heard.

Folbigg was jailed for at least 25 years in 2003 after she was found guilty of killing her four babies - Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura - in the decade from 1989.

The 51-year-old did not give evidence at her trial but faced the Coroners Court in Sydney on Monday.

Six of her diaries taken from the 10 to 11-year period, in which her four children died, are before the inquiry while up to five others are unaccounted for.

Kathleen Folbigg in court today.
Kathleen Folbigg in court today.

In another diary entry, dated October 14, 1996, before she fell pregnant with Laura Folbigg compared herself to her father, who murdered her mother when she was just a baby.

When Kathleen was only 18 months old, her dad Thomas Britton stabbed her mother, Kathleen Donavan to death.

In court today, she said her father's actions had "ruined her life" after she was placed in foster care as a baby.

However, in the diary entry, she said it was clear from her "mistakes and terrible thinking" that she was her "father's daughter".

"Children thing still isn't happening," Folbigg wrote in 1996. "Thinking of forgetting the idea. Nature, fate and the man upstairs have decided I don't get a fourth chance.

"And rightly so I suppose. I would like to make all my mistakes and terrible thinking be corrected and mean something though.

"Plus I'm ready to continue my family time now. Obviously I'm my father's daughter. But I think losing my temper stage and being frustrated with everything has passed.

"I now just let things happen and go with the flow. An attitude I should have had with all my children. If given the chance I'll have it with the next one."

She later told police that she meant her father was a "loser", but Mr Maxwell said her reasoning for mentioning her father in this context didn't make sense.

"Your understanding is that he (Folbigg's father) killed your mum as a result of losing his temper," he said. "I put it to you, that when you say you meant your father was a loser, it doesn't make any sense in this context."

Folbigg responded saying her father had "just popped into her head" at the time of writing the diary entry.

"Three attempts at failing at being a mother, here I am preparing for another child and my father popped into my head," she said

Kathleen Folbigg in 2003.
Kathleen Folbigg in 2003.

Earlier today, Folbigg broke down in tears as she described the moments she found her children dead.

"When I found the children I was always alone,"she told the court. "He (Craig) wasn't the one who found them I was."

Folbigg wiped away tears as she discussed the deaths of her children.

"I do feel responsible, I was their mother. I've always felt I didn't do enough. Something went wrong and I was always searching for why," she said.

In questioning Folbigg, barrister Chris Maxwell QC for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said: "I'm suggesting you got rid of the diaries because there was significantly incriminating material in those diaries. What do you say to that?" "I don't agree with that at all," Folbigg replied.

She was grilled about why she had disposed of so many of her diaries over the crucial 10-year period when her four children were killed.

"I kept diaries on and off my whole life since I was a teenager," she told the court, saying any missing diaries were "probably dumped or thrown in the bin".

"Now I can only recollect throwing away one and that's all," she said.

In another of the diary entries read out in court, she described why she wrote in diaries - saying it was to "vent or release" instead of speaking to her husband Craig.

Mr Maxwell read out a police interview from July 1999, in which Folbigg decided one Mother's Day to throw out her diaries.

"I pulled one out to have a look at what I'd written and decided that life's pretty crappy, I just got rid of them all," she told police at the time.

Folbigg was then challenged by Mr Maxwell about a number of diary entries.

In one from October 25, 1997, she wrote that she "missed" her daughter Sarah, but "I'm not sad that Laura's here and she (Sarah) isn't."

She explained the entry in court, saying: "I went through a time after Sarah died where I decided I wasn't going to have any more children.

"That's reflective of me always thinking I'd done something wrong."

Mr Maxwell responded: "What I'm saying to you is that you were not sad that Sarah wasn't with you anymore."

"What I'm saying is I was cherishing Laura and I can't be too upset about Sarah," Folbigg responded

"I was reflecting on the different style in parenting, I was constantly doubting myself as a mother."

The diaries obtained by police include comments such as Laura being "a fairly good-natured baby" which "saved her from the fate of her siblings". "I think she was warned," Folbigg wrote in December 1997. Laura died in March 1999.

"With Sarah all I wanted was her to shut up, and one day she did," Folbigg wrote in November 1997, adding in a January 1998 entry that Sarah "left, with a bit of help".

The inquiry continues.