KATHLEEN Folbigg will not appear in person at an inquiry starting on Monday into her convictions in 2003 for killing her four babies. Folbigg was “apprehensive” but “this is the moment she’s been waiting for”, said Newcastle barrister Isabel Reed, one of three barristers representing the Hunter woman. Folbigg will follow this week’s evidence via an audio-visual link to her jail. It was Folbigg’s choice, Ms Reed said. The inquiry headed by former chief judge of the District Court, Reginald Blanch, will open with an address by counsel assisting the inquiry, Gail Furness, SC – who gained public prominence as counsel assisting the child abuse royal commission – and evidence from two sudden infant death experts. An audio of proceedings will be live-streamed from the Lidcombe hearing room at https://www.folbigginquiry.justice.nsw.gov.au. Folbigg was sentenced to 40 years’ jail in 2003 – later reduced on appeal to 30 years and with a minimum term of 25 years – for the manslaughter of her first child Caleb, 19 days old, and the murder of her three children Patrick, eight months, Sarah, 10 months, and Laura, 19 months, at Singleton between 1989 and 1999. Each child died suddenly and unexpectedly because of “cessation of breathing”, although post-mortems failed to establish the reason. NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman established the inquiry in August after acknowledging the distress it would cause, particularly to Folbigg’s former husband Craig, was “something that has weighed on me heavily”. “Whatever view you take of this case it is a tragedy beyond imagining that four beautiful children were lost,” Mr Speakman said. Mr Speakman said he announced the inquiry after a petition prepared by the University of Newcastle Legal Centre appeared to “raise a question of the evidence that led to Ms Folbigg’s convictions”. The petition for a judicial review included the opinion of internationally respected Monash University forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner that there was ”no forensic pathology support for the contention that any or all of these children have been killed”. He found much of the forensic pathology discussed at the trial was ”misconceived” and the default diagnosis of murder was ”wrong” because there was no evidence supporting the Crown case Folbigg smothered her children. Support for an inquiry into whether there had been a miscarriage of justice grew from 2011 with publication of academic Emma Cunliffe’s book, Murder, Medicine and Motherhood, which raised serious questions about the Folbigg convictions. Helen Cummings began visiting Folbigg in prison after reading the book, and launched a campaign in 2013 to have the case reconsidered after noting similarities between the Folbigg case and the wrongful conviction of Lindy Chamberlain for killing daughter Azaria, quashed years later after an exhaustive legal process. Ms Chamberlain’s solicitor, Stuart Tipple, was one of a number of prominent lawyers who supported an inquiry after expressing serious concerns about the convictions, and Newcastle University criminologist Xanthe Mallett also argued for a judicial review. In a statement announcing the review Mr Speakman said there was doubt about evidence during the trial about the incidence of reported deaths of three or more infants in the same family attributed to unidentified natural causes. Charges against Victorian woman Carol Matthew following the deaths of her four babies were dismissed after a judge found there was no evidence she had killed them. The charges were dropped during the same period Folbigg was convicted. Ms Reed, who spoke with Folbigg last week, said the Hunter woman’s future was in the hands of medical experts and lawyers who would be challenging evidence at the 2003 trial based on significant advances in knowledge about sudden and unexplained infant deaths in the past decade.