BBC Home
Explore the BBC
31 October  
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
About This Site | Text Only
1997: British au pair guilty of murder
A Boston jury has found Louise Woodward, 19, guilty of second degree murder for killing the baby in her care.

Woodward, who was an au pair with the family of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen, now faces being jailed for life with no parole for at least 15 years.

The jury reached its decision after more than 26 hours of deliberation and several requests to the judge for clarification of evidence.

Woodward, who broke down in tears as the verdict was delivered, has always denied killing the boy.

The prosecution argued that on 4 February, she battered and shook baby Matthew to death in a rage of frustration because she was unhappy with her job and the baby had been crying.

After the verdict the court was immediately adjourned until tomorrow when sentencing will be passed.

Prosecution lawyer Martha Coakley said: "We had common sense and we had truth on our side."

She also added that the Eappen family were "relieved it was over and had just wanted to know what happened to their child".

We had common sense and we had truth on our side
Prosecution lawyer Martha Coakley
The parents of Woodward were present when the verdict was delivered, but did not react.

The case has caused much interest on both sides of the Atlantic with locals in her home village of Elton, Cheshire vowing to continue campaigning for her release.

Her defence team say they will appeal for "as long as we live and breathe".

On 4 February 1997 Woodward called an ambulance to the Eappen family home after Matthew stopped breathing. He was taken to Boston Children's Hospital and put on a life support machine.

He died six days later after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage.

 E-mail this story to a friend

Louise Woodward in court
Louise Woodward broke down in court

Au pair jury return a guilty verdict

In Context
Louise Woodward later had her conviction reduced to manslaughter and was freed from jail as she had already served the time that the judge recommended - 279 days.

It emerged that the jury was initially split, but those favouring an acquittal were persuaded to accept a conviction. None of the jury "thought she tried to murder him," one member said.

On her return to the UK she enrolled at South Bank University to study law.

Her parents were charged with stealing from a trust fund in her name but later cleared when a judge said there was no case to answer.

Stories From 31 Oct

Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  

^^ back to top
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
©MMVIII | News Sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy