One of Australia's most notorious serial killers, Kathleen Folbigg, has been brutally bashed by an inmate after being transferred to a new prison in northern NSW.
It's been revealed that the attack on New Year's Eve left Folbigg — convicted of killing four of her infant children — with a black eye and bruises, and her friends, who are protesting her innocence, fearing for her life.
The attack was detailed in a letter from Folbigg, seen by The Australian.
It took place shortly after the 53-year-old was transferred to the Clarence Correctional Centre in Grafton.
She says that she was assaulted on New Year's Day: "Purple eye, few bruises, all because the women didn't want 'likes of me' in their unit," she wrote, referring to her "baby killer" and "killer mum" image.
She said the bashing undid all the effort she had put into being accepted by the prison population at Sydney's Silverwater. "It took me over 16 years to obtain some respect from staff and inmates and show them I am nothing like all the reports if you bother to get to know me. Here not even given the opportunity. Very sad."
Her pen friend expressed concern for Folbigg's safety and told The Australian: "I fear for her life while she is imprisoned. She continues to suffer physical, emotional and psychological trauma while she is incarcerated." The friend added: "She needs to be released now."
It comes as 76 of Australia's top scientists and doctors are demanding Folbigg be released from jail and pardoned immediately.
Folbigg, 53, was jailed for 30 years in 2003 for the murders of her children Patrick, Sarah and Laura – aged from eight months to 19 months – between 1991 and 1999.
She was also found guilty of the manslaughter of her firstborn child, Caleb, who was just 19 days old when he died in Newcastle in 1989.
However, a total of 76 eminent researchers, including two Nobel laureates and several Australians of the Year, say new medical evidence about a mutant gene carried by two of the Folbigg children creates a "strong presumption'' they died from natural causes. An additional 14 international experts have joined the call for action.
They have called on NSW Governor Margaret Beazley to pardon Folbigg and immediately release her from jail, calling for an end to the "miscarriage of justice'' they say that Folbigg has suffered.
"The entire time that Kathleen Folbigg has been in custody is a result of a miscarriage of justice. This year, Ms Folbigg has been incarcerated for 18 years of her life," they said in a joint statement.
"The executive prerogative of mercy is designed to deal with failures of the justice system such as this one. It is incumbent on the Governor to exercise her power to stop the ongoing miscarriage of justice suffered by Ms Folbigg. Not to do so is to continue to deny Ms Folbigg basic human rights and to decrease faith in the New South Wales justice system.
"Ms Folbigg's case also establishes a dangerous precedent as it means that cogent medical and scientific evidence can simply be ignored in preference to subjective interpretations of circumstantial evidence."
Folbigg was found to have smothered her children, but the experts say that is not possible and their deaths were all from natural causes.
They say a genetic mutation called CALM2 G114R was found in Sarah and Laura's DNA, inherited from their mother, which can cause sudden cardiac arrest in infants.
They argue this meant at least those two children likely died of natural causes, and therefore creates reasonable doubt over the convictions.
"Mutations in this gene are one of the best recognised causes of sudden death in infancy and childhood," the petition read.
"The medical evidence that now exists ... creates a strong presumption that the Folbigg children died of natural causes.
"A reasonable person should have doubt about Ms Folbigg killing her four children. Deciding otherwise rejects medical science and the law that sets the standard of proof."
Considered Australia's worst female serial killer and "most hated woman", Folbigg has always maintained her innocence and launched another bid for freedom in September.
Since she was imprisoned in 2003, her convictions, based largely on entries she wrote in her diary, have been upheld through numerous legal challenges.
Her case was the subject of an inquiry in 2019, which again affirmed the guilty verdict.
However, the experts who signed the petition said this was at odds with medical and scientific evidence.
"This is because a natural cause of death for each of the children has been ascribed by qualified experts, and there was no evidence of smothering," the petition reads.
"The Governor should have no doubt that the case against Kathleen Folbigg is entirely circumstantial.
"It is based on the proposition that the likelihood of four children from one family dying of natural causes is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible.
"It resulted in medical evidence being rejected in favour of inculpatory interpretations of Ms Folbigg's vague journal entries, which contained no admissions of guilt."
"The executive prerogative of mercy is designed to deal with failures of the justice system such as this one,'' a letter accompanying the petition and obtained by News Corp Australia states.
"It is incumbent on the Governor to exercise her power to stop the ongoing miscarriage of justice suffered by Ms Folbigg.
"Not to do so is to continue to deny Ms Folbigg basic human rights and to decrease faith in the NSW justice system.
"Ms Folbigg's case also establishes a dangerous precedent as it means that cogent medical and scientific evidence can simply be ignored in preference to subjective interpretations of circumstantial evidence.''
The diaries that were used to convict Folbigg have been the subject of much legal debate, and in the 2019 inquiry she was questioned extensively about them.
Chris Maxwell QC for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions grilled her over her diary entries, leading to an emotional response from Folbigg.
"I don't know why any of my children died, but I didn't kill them," she said in the coroner's court in Sydney.
"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."
Maxwell pushed Folbigg over the phrases she used in her diaries — such as "dangerous mood" and "losing control".
"In my most dangerous mood I'm not a very nice person to be around," she wrote in one of the entries.
Folbigg replied: "Dangerous mood means depression to me. When I'm depressed or a little cranky, don't come near me."
She argued in 2018: "Those diaries are written from a point of me always blaming myself.
"I blamed myself for everything. I took so much of the responsibility, because that's, as mothers, what you do."
The petition argued her latest appeal could take years to finalise.
"Ms Folbigg has suffered and continues to suffer emotional and psychological trauma and physical abuse in custody,' the petition read.
"She has endured the death of her four children and has been wrongfully incarcerated because the justice system has failed her. We the undersigned seek her immediate pardon and release from jail."