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Woodward Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Parents go back to court
A balloon saying 'welcome home Louise' in Elton, Cheshire
Villagers in Elton, Cheshire are preparing for Woodward's return
The parents of the baby killed while in the care of the British au pair Louise Woodward are launching a court action to stop her profiting from her story.

But supporters of the British au pair say she should be allowed to tell her version of events.

Lawyers for the parents of Matthew Eappen, the baby Woodward is convicted of killing, will go to court on trying to bring a civil suit against her.

Mr and Mrs Eappen are also seeking more than 75,000 in damages for the loss of their son.

Woodward was freed on Tuesday after her appeal in Boston against her conviction for killing Matthew. She is preparing to come home to Elton, Cheshire after legal formalities are completed.

The legal action in the US District Court by Drs Sunil and Debbie Eappen seeks initially to stop Woodward from making any money from her 16-month ordeal.

The Eappen family in court during the trial
The Eappens: want profits for foundation
Earlier on Tuesday, the couple refused to comment to the media after a Supreme Court ruling allowed Woodward to go free.

But Paul Spellman, uncle of Matthew Eappen, said the family were setting up a foundation in the child's name to highlight child abuse.

He said: "If you look at the wrongful death suit, you will understand that it's filed for one reason only, to prevent her profiting from a horrible situation.

"We are simply trying to put the funds to a good use, a good cause to prevent child abuse."

Legal experts are questioning whether an order to stop Woodward profiting from her story would be enforceable in the UK.

However, any British newspaper which paid Woodward could fall foul of Press Complaints Commission regulations which say convicted criminals should not profit from their crimes.

Barry Scheck, Woodward's chief defence lawyer, denied that his client had ever tried to profit from the death of Matthew Eappen by selling her story to a newspaper or film company.

He said her only interest was to fight on to clear her name.

In Woodward's home village of Elton, Cheshire, Sandra McCabe, of the Louise Woodward Support Group, said the au pair should tell her side of the story.

"I do feel Louise needs to tell her side of the story. For profit? I don't know," she said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in Massachusetts ruled that the judge in Woodward's trial was right to quash the jury's second degree murder verdict and replace it with one of manslaughter.

Louise Woodward in handcuffs
Woodward: no more handcuffs
By four votes to three, they upheld Judge Hiller Zobel's "time served" sentence of 279 days imposed on Woodward.

But one of the seven judges described Louise Woodward as a "convicted felon" who should never be allowed to work with children again or profit from her experience - a recommendation which may have spurred on the Eappen family.

Speaking for the Woodward family, lawyer Paul Barrow said he hoped the 20-year-old would be home in Britain before the weekend.

"(The family) would like to express initially their relief that Louise's ordeal has finally come to an end," he said.

"Louise will continue to maintain her innocence and a statement in fact has already been made by her American lawyers a short time ago, stating the injustice that they consider she has suffered.

"It is the family's dearest wish that they be reunited again as soon as possible and once certain procedural matters in the US have been resolved, Louise will be returning to this country."

BBC News
Paul Spellman: "We want the money to go to a good cause"
BBC News
Kirsty Wark of BBC's Newsnight looks back on the Woodward case
BBC News
Jane Hughes reports from Boston: "The talk is of little else"
BBC News
Sandra McCabe says Woodward should be heard
See also:

16 Jun 98 | Woodward
16 Jun 98 | Woodward
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