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THE shocking story of Louise Woodward made headlines all over the world and tonight ITV documentary The Trial Of Louise Woodward will bring it back into the spotlight.
But who is she and what was she convicted of? Here’s all you need to know…
British nanny Louise Woodward (R), during re-direct testimony as she testifies on her own behalf in her murder trialCredit: Alamy
Who is Louise Woodward?
Louise Woodward was a normal teen from Elton, Cheshire, at 18 years old when she flew 3,100 miles to work for an au pair for an agency in Boston, Massachusetts after she finished her A-levels in 1996.
She was placed with a family but reportedly was “unhappy” with the 11pm “curfew” they had enforced on her and left.
Soon after she was hired by Sunil and Deborah Eappen, both 30-year-old doctors, to take care of their young son Matthew, in November.
But within two months, it was claimed the parents were concerned by Woodward staying out late at night and they cautioned her.
They allegedly drew up a list of expectations in January 1997 to ensure “the safety and well-being of our kids”, the Irish Times reported.
He was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital and put on a life support machine – but tragically six days later, he died of a brain haemorrhage.
In between that time, Woodward, then 19, was arrested by police and she pleaded not guilty to one charge of battery of a child.
What was Louise Woodward convicted of?
The prosecution alleged she killed the baby in a “frustrated, unhappy and relentless rage” – a claim the au pair’s lawyers strongly rejected.
While under cross-examination, Woodward clarified that she had “popped” and not “dropped” the baby – as police officers had previously claimed. Later, she explained that to ‘pop’ was an English term meaning to “lay” or to “place”.
Experts said the injuries were classic symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome – a forceful action that causes serious brain damage or death.
However, the defence and brain surgeon Joseph Medsen argued Matthew’s death could have resulted from a head injury obtained two weeks earlier.
In October, Woodward wept in the docks as she was found guilty of a lesser second-degree murder charge and was later sentenced to life in prison.
Outside the court, the teen’s mother said: “They’ve made a horrendous mistake and they need to put it right.”
While support grew and funds amassed to launch an appeal, Woodward told her parents: “Please don’t let me spend the rest of my life in here for something I didn’t do.”
What happened to Louise Woodward?
Two days after her conviction, it emerged that the jury was split before they were convinced in favour of finding the teen guilty.
According to one jury member, none of them “thought she tried to murder” Matthew.
The defence launched an appeal and within 10 days of being sentenced to life in prison, Woodward was released.
Judge Hiller Zobel overturned the jury’s verdict and ruled that she was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
He sentenced her to 278 days in jail – the amount of time she had already spent behind bars.
The following day, the prosecution vowed to “pull out every stop” to get Woodward back in jail and her lawyers promised “total vindication”.
By June 1998, Judge Zobel’s verdict had been overturned after it was claimed he “abused his statutory discretion” and the decision moved to The Supreme Court.
By four votes to three, his verdict of involuntary manslaughter and the reduced sentence was upheld, which finally allowed Woodward to go home to the UK.
Where is Louise Woodward now?
In 2008, it was reported Woodward was living in Bridgnorth and had started a dance school where she taught jive and salsa.
She went on to attend baking classes and sold her goods in Wolverhampton before getting a degree in law.
Woodward married Anthony Elkes, who owned a truck hire company, and at the start of 2014 she gave birth to a daughter.
During her pregnancy, she told the Daily Mail: “I know there are some people waiting for me to have a baby so they can say nasty things.
“It upsets me but that is not going to stop me leading my life… I am entitled to enjoy my life. I am not going to apologise for being happy.”
What is Louise Woodward’s net worth?
Woodward’s net worth is not known.