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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK

Woodward: 'I'm not guilty'

Louise Woodward, left, and family at home in Elton

Click here to view the Woodwards' live press conference in Real Video at 0800 BST (0700 GMT).

Former au pair Louise Woodward has arrived back in Britain to insist: "I did not hurt Matthew Eappen."

Louise Woodward: "In time the truth will come out, and in time I will be cleared"
Woodward, who said she would not be selling her story, added she hoped the "medical community" would be able to prove her innocence.

"In time the truth will come out, and in time I will be cleared."

Woodward, convicted for the manslaughter of baby Matthew Eappen in the US, told a packed press conference at Manchester Airport that she had not been bought up by a newspaper and would be given an interview to the BBC for no payment.

[ image: Woodward said she wants to do
Woodward said she wants to do "what any other 20-year-old would do"
Turning to the case, the 20-year-old again claimed she was not responsible for the death of baby Matthew.

"I feel great sorrow for the death of baby Matthew but I had nothing to do with his death.

"I didn't hurt baby Matthew and I just hope the medical community will take up my case to prove my innocence, because all avenues of appeal are closed now."

Woodward, speaking with a slight American accent, blamed "atrocious" pre-trial publicity for the fact she did not get a fair court hearing.

"Now I have a conviction but it is a conviction I do not deserve," she said.

[ image: Louise and sister Vicky embrace]
Louise and sister Vicky embrace
She said she would not like to go to university, and "do what any other 20-year-old would do. I'd like to get a part-time job; just do normal things."

Asked is she had a message for the parents of Matthew Eappen, Woodward said: "No, I do not".

BBC correspondent Daniela Relph: bodyguards kept reporters away
Woodward, who was planning to return to her home in Elton, Cheshire, after the news conference, thanked her supporters from "all over the world".

"It made a big difference. Whenever I got my hands on a British newspaper, it helped me to think that I was not forgotten and that a lot of people were supporting me."

She declined to say what she would do with the trust fund that has accumulated from supporters' donations.

Her time in America, which included months spent in prison, meant she "grew up an awful lot".

First class travel

Woodward and her father Gary landed at Heathrow Airport at 0436 BST (0336 GMT) after a flight from Logan Airport, Boston. They had to drive north after British Airways asked them not to travel on an internal shuttle flight because of the chaos it could cause.

"Absolutely made up": The people of Elton prepare to welcome Woodward home
The pair travelled from the US in first class with BA chairman Sir Colin Marshall. Behind them was a Massachusetts state trooper who fended off interest from journalists on the plane.

There were no celebrations during the flight and when they touched down they ran the gauntlet of camera crews and reporters, saying nothing. They were then whisked away through a side entrance.

Woodward and her 42-year-old father, left the house in Marblehead Neck, Massachusetts, where the former au pair had been staying since late March, on Wednesday evening.

She had been free to return home since Tuesday, following the decision to uphold the "time served" sentence of 279 days imposed after her conviction for murder was reduced to manslaughter.

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Internet Links

British consuls in the US

Louise Woodward Campaign for Justice

Full text of the appeal ruling

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