How does a modern jury unshackle itself from gossip?

I’ve been asked hundreds of times – by friends, colleagues, people who know that I know her.

Did she do it?

Some are genuinely curious; others want to corroborate their own view; most just see me as a keyhole through which they can glimpse briefly with their own eyes that most compelling and repellent of creatures – the “mother who killed her child.”

They fascinate us, don’t they, these women with their inscrutable faces and their seeming ability to go against the natural order and snuff out that to which they’ve given life. Kathleen Folbigg, Keli Lane. We lock in our verdicts like we’re players in some murder game show – Jail of the Century, Wheel of Misfortune – but why? Because of moral panic? Because we sleep easier believing we’re right?

All week talk has swirled round Kathleen Folbigg – currently serving a 30-year sentence for killing her four children – after a 60 Minutes investigation raised the possibility of her innocence. This week Keli Lane will appeal against her conviction of murdering her newborn baby Tegan.

I have known Keli Lane for more than a decade: her parents are my neighbours; my children play with her daughter; we regularly battled it out in the parents’ race at swim club (she always beat me). I have been in her home and she has been in mine. She’s always been terrific fun; one of the few parents I know who didn’t outsource birthday parties but organised the games herself. “You little duffer,” she’d call my youngest as she taught her to swim.

Read the rest of this column here.