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Why women are being jailed in record numbers – and why they go ‘gay for the stay’

Australia’s worst child killer Kathleen Folbigg, deviant duo Jemma Lilley and Trudi Lenon, and Rebecca Butterfield, the worst inmate in New South Wales, are just three of the women being held in Australia’s overcrowded prisons.

The number of women in the Australian prison system is reaching record numbers, with some choosing to initiate relationships with other inmates to pass the time. 

Earlier this year, the New South Wales Department of Justice revealed that the state’s prisons held 50 per cent more women in 2017 then they did in 2011.

Some of the most notorious women in the Australian prison system include Keli Lane, Kathleen Folbigg (pictured) and Megan Haines

More women are appearing before the courts, according to NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR).

A rise has also been seen in the number of women with a significant criminal history being processed by NSW Police. 

‘Judges, jurors and the police are distinguishing less between men and women who repeatedly offend and commit violent offences,’ Xanthe Mallett, a criminology lecturer at Newcastle University, told The Saturday Telegraph.

‘Women are being handed the same tough custodial sentences as men, there’s less gender biasing and discrimination towards women in the courtroom.’ 

An increase in spontaneous attacks by women are also being linked to drugs. 

Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro said while he is not sympathetic toward female offenders, their behaviour is usually stems from issues such as family violence.

Louise Catherine Spiteri-Ahern (pictured), who paid a hitman to murder Raymond Pasnin, has been jailed for at least 18 years for the murder

Louise Catherine Spiteri-Ahern (pictured), who paid a hitman to murder Raymond Pasnin, has been jailed for at least 18 years for the murder

To survive in prison, some offenders have adapted to life in prison, including former Australian Olympic polo player Keli Lane.

Lane, 43, is in prison over the death of her daughter.

Her partner, Patrick Cogan, told the publication that his partner had gone ‘gay for the stay’.

Mr Cogan said: ‘She has got close to other women, she needs to survive.’ 

However he looks forward to the pair starting a family together. 

Kathleen Folbigg, 51, NSW

Folbigg was arrested and questioned by police regarding the murder of her four children; Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura.

Dubbed Australia’s worst child killer, Folbigg, is serving a 40-year sentence for the murders of her two sons and two daughters between 1989 and 1999.

The Hunter Valley woman was convicted by a Supreme Court jury in May 2003.    

Kathleen Folbigg (pictured) was arrested in 2003 and question by police regarding the murder of her four children; Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura

Kathleen Folbigg (pictured) was arrested in 2003 and question by police regarding the murder of her four children; Caleb, Patrick, Sarah and Laura

Rebecca Butterfield, 43, NSW

She has been called the most violent inmate in New South Wales prisons.

Butterfield was originally sentenced to three years in jail for assault for stabbing a neighbour who tried to stop her from self-harming.

But in 2016, she became the first person, who was not a sex offender, to have her detention extended and was sentenced to a further five years behind bars. 

Butterfield has tried to kill herself at least seven times in six years and murdered Emu Plains inmate Bluce Lim Ward by stabbing her 34 times. 

She also stabbed an officer in the face and threw boiling water at two others. 

Rebecca Butterfield (pictured) has been called the most violent inmate in New South Wales prisons

Rebecca Butterfield (pictured) has been called the most violent inmate in New South Wales prisons

Keli Lane, 43, NSW

Lane gave birth to Tegan Lee Lane in secret on September 12, 1996, at a hospital in western Sydney.

Lane was 21 at the time she gave birth. Tegan vanished soon after and during her trial she said she had given the infant to the child’s father, with whom she was having an affair.

Lane was not convicted of her daughter’s murder, and three counts of lying under oath, until more than a decade later.

Her earliest possible release date is May 2023.  

Keli Lane (pictured) gave birth to Tegan Lee Lane in secret on September 12, 1996, at a hospital in western Sydney

Keli Lane (pictured) gave birth to Tegan Lee Lane in secret on September 12, 1996, at a hospital in western Sydney

Louise Catherine Spiteri-Ahern, 27, NSW

The 27-year-old was found guilty of murder last year of paying $4,000 for a gun-for-hire to kill her ex-boyfriend, Raymond Pasnin.

Mr Pasnin was walking out of his mother’s home in Pendle Hill with his fiancee when a man emerged from the darkness and shot him dead in 2013. 

Spiteri-Ahern was sentenced to 30 years behind bars, with a non-parole period of 18 years.

He sentence was backdated to June 22, 2015. 

The 27-year-old was found guilty last year of paying $4,000 for a gun-for-hire to kill her ex-boyfriend, Raymond Pasnin (Pictured: Louise Catherine Spiteri-Ahern)

The 27-year-old was found guilty last year of paying $4,000 for a gun-for-hire to kill her ex-boyfriend, Raymond Pasnin (Pictured: Louise Catherine Spiteri-Ahern)

Megan Haines, 51, NSW

Haines was working at a nursing home on the north coast of New South Wales when she killed two of the Ballina residents.

Haines injected Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77, with insulin as they slept in their beds in May 2014.

She was sentenced in 2016 to 36 years in prison with a non-parole period of 27 years for the two counts of murder.  

Megan Haines injected Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77, with insulin as they slept in their beds in May 2014

Megan Haines injected Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabella Spencer, 77, with insulin as they slept in their beds in May 2014

Jemma Victoria Lilley, 26, and Trudi Lenon, 43, WA 

Lilley and Lenon were found guilty of murder for the killing 18-year-old Aaron Pajich-Sweetman and were given life sentences in February this year.

In June 2016, Lilley, from Lincolnshire, England, murdered Pajich-Sweetman with the help of Lenon, who agreed to help her commit her first murder as her ‘submissive’.

Pajich-Sweetman, who had Asperger’s syndrome, was believed to have been killed just after arriving at the home.

He was found with multiple stab wounds.

He had also been garrotted and had cling film around his face.   

Lilley (left) and Lenon (right) were found guilty of killing 18-year-old Aaron Pajich-Sweetman and were given life sentences in February this year

In June 2016 Lilley, from Lincolnshire, England,  murdered Pajich-Sweetman with the help of Lenon (pictured), who agreed to help her commit her first murder as her 'submissive'

Lilley (left) and Lenon (right) were found guilty of killing 18-year-old Aaron Pajich-Sweetman and were given life sentences in February this year

Akon Guode, 37, VIC

The mother pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after she drove her four children, aged between 17 months old and five years old, into a lake at Wyndham Vale in April 2015.

She was sentenced to 26 years and six months jail. 

The judge said that Guode, who fled the Sudan civil war, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and depression but the reason she drove her kids into the lake in her four-wheel drive is unclear.  

Akon Guode (pictured) pledguilty to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after she drove her four children into a lake at Wyndham Vale in April 2015

Akon Guode (pictured) pledguilty to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after she drove her four children into a lake at Wyndham Vale in April 2015

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