/Kathleen Folbigg does not suffer from psychotic illness, report finds

Kathleen Folbigg does not suffer from psychotic illness, report finds

Updated

May 08, 2019 16:29:07

There is “no evidence” convicted baby-killer Kathleen Folbigg has a psychotic illness, severe mood disorder or any other brain injury consistent with homicidal conduct, a consultant psychiatrist has found.

Key points:

  • Dr Michael Diamond was asked to examine Folbigg by her legal team
  • Folbigg has features consistent with those seen in abused children, the consultant psychiatrist wrote in his report
  • At the inquiry last week, Folbigg was grilled about her diaries, which were used to convict her

Dr Michael Diamond, who describes himself as “experienced in providing psychiatric and psychological profiles of individuals who are involved in dangerous conduct”, assessed Folbigg for a judicial inquiry into her convictions for killing her four children.

Folbigg is serving a minimum 25-year sentence after being found guilty in 2003 of three counts of murder, one count of manslaughter and one count of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Dr Diamond’s report was made public online today.

It claims a medical officer working for the NSW Department of Community Services had, early in Folbigg’s life, “considered it likely” she had been sexually abused by her father.

Folbigg’s father Thomas Britton murdered her mother when Kathleen was 18 months old.

“My assessment of Ms Folbigg is that she has features that are consistent with those seen in abused children and are described diagnostically as features consistent with a diagnosis of Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” Dr Diamond said in the report.

“It is inevitable that Ms Folbigg has been affected by the trauma of her early childhood experiences so as to reflect this in her personality.

“Her personality functioning is based on creating an external picture of wellbeing.

“She has the advantage of being physically attractive and intelligent.

“She has probably conducted herself in relation to others in a manner that has avoided criticism, humiliation and judgment particularly in her adolescence and early adult years.”

Folbigg blamed supernatural powers for taking the lives of three of her children, telling the inquiry last week, there were “things going on beyond my control”.

Margaret Cunneen SC, representing Folbigg’s former husband Craig at the inquiry, asked her about a diary entry from April 30, 1996, in which she wrote: “I worry that my next child will suffer my psychological mood swings like the others did. I pray I’m prepared and ready mind wise for this next one.”

Ms Cunneen asked: “At one end of your mood swings, I would suggest to you, was such anger with your children not doing as you wanted, usually sleeping, I’d suggest to you, that you took it into your own hands and smothered them?”

“No,” Ms Folbigg replied.

Major psychosis excluded

In his written report, Dr Diamond reviewed Folbigg’s previous psychiatric assessments by Dr Yvonne Skinner, Dr Bruce Westmore, and Dr Michael Giuffrida, all of whom assessed her around the time of her trial in 2003.

“Dr Skinner … looked at Ms Folbigg’s psychiatric history overall and quite correctly excluded major psychosis, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or any other severe brain injury or psychiatric condition that could account for Ms Folbigg being implicated in the deaths of her children on the basis of the presence of those disorders,” Dr Diamond said.

He criticised the report by police psychologist, Rozalinda Garbutt, prepared during the investigation in 2000 which misinterpreted her “distressing emotions” to admissions of guilt and responsibility.

“Ms Garbutt’s assessment appears to have occurred in the absence of comprehensive psychological assessment of Ms Folbigg,” he said.

“The interpretation … is, at best, misunderstood.”

Much of Folbigg’s evidence to the inquiry last week related to her diaries, which were used to convict her at her 2003 trial.

During questioning last week, it was put to Folbigg that she had deliberately gotten rid of her diaries or hidden them.

In his report, Dr Diamond said he asked her about the diaries and records that “she made no effort to hide her diaries because she simply viewed them as part of her life and not as something dangerous or secret”.

“I asked her specifically if she left her diaries out in order for her husband to find what she had written.

“She said it was not intended for her diaries to be read by others.

“Writing her diaries ‘was simply a way of getting things out’.”

Dr Diamond wrote in his report that when he spoke to Ms Folbigg in prison “she questioned why she was even on the planet”.

“She said the feelings of the guilt of surviving appeared in her diaries.

“She said she blamed herself for everything that had happened.

“She said she expressed her search for answers by constantly self-blaming and looking for answers so that she could make things better.”

Dr Diamond was asked to examine Ms Folbigg by her legal team and his report was tendered last week on the final day of the inquiry.

Topics:

courts-and-trials,

law-crime-and-justice,

murder-and-manslaughter,

sydney-2000

First posted

May 08, 2019 16:14:50