Where Louise Woodward is now and her family life with her daughter
Louise Woodward was just a teenager when a baby in her care died and she was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The trial of the 19-year-old for the murder of Matthew Eappen in the USA shocked the world in 1997, and the nanny, from Cheshire, became the centre of a huge media storm and legal battle. Now, a new documentary re-examining the evidence is being aired on Channel 4, featuring new interviews with witnesses, defence, prosecution and the jury to mark 25 years since the high profile US court case.
: The unsolved murder of a teenage sex worker who was strangled and bludgeoned to death in her London flat The three-part programme, The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It?, airs tonight (January 9) at 9pm, and then also tomorrow and Tuesday at the same time.
Louise Woodward facing the press with her parents Sue and Gary at Manchester Airport after becoming the centre of a media storm
Meanwhile, Woodward is now aged 43 and has a daughter of her own. She married truck hire company boss Anthony Elkes in May 2013, with whom she had a baby less than a year later.
The girl is now seven years old.
The story of the Louise Woodward trial
Twenty-five years ago, Louise Woodward was looking after eight-month-old Matthew Eappen in his home in Newton, Massachusetts. The child was then rushed to hospital in Boston with a fractured skull, internal bleeding and a fractured wrist – falling into a coma. The British au pair admitted to playing “a little roughly” with the baby days before his death and was charged with battery of a child.
However, Matthew died from a brain haemorrhage days later and Woodward’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder. The polarising trial took place in October 1997 and Woodward drew criticism from the public for appearing cold throughout the highly televised court case.
A ‘Free Louise Woodward’ campaign in November 1997 – the trial was polarising on both sides of the Atlantic
The prosecution claimed Woodward had violently shaken Matthew in a “frustrated, unhappy and resentful rage”, while the defence asserted his injuries were several months old. Following 26 hours of deliberations, the jury delivered a guilty verdict on October 30, after being presented with evidence of symptoms synonymous with shaken baby syndrome.
Woodward maintained her innocence throughout and collapsed in tears when she was found guilty of second-degree murder – which meant a mandatory life sentence.
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And to really customise your news experience on the go, you can download our top-rated free apps for iPhone and Android. Find out more here. Woodward’s mum blasted the verdict as a “horrendous mistake” and it was revealed the jury was split when it came to its decision.
One person on the jury later admitted none of the members “thought she tried to murder him” – and Judge Zobel heard a plea from the defence to change the murder verdict to involuntary manslaughter two days later. The judge agreed with the challenge and reduced the conviction on November 10, sentencing Woodward to 279 days in prison. This was the exact time Louise Woodward had already spent in jail, which meant she was able to walk free.
The front page of the Daily Record newspaper on November 11, 1997 announcing the release of Louise Woodward from jail
The prosecution challenged the decision to overturn the verdict and launched an appeal, which meant the trial was eventually heard at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court decided by four votes to three in Woodward’s favour – meaning she was able to return to Britain. Woodward always insisted she had only shaken Matthew lightly to revive him after he fell ill.
What happened to Louise Woodward after the trial
Woodward went on to study law at London South Bank University after she arrived back in the UK, graduating with a 2:2 degree in 2002. She began a career at a Manchester law firm but dropped out of the contract to work as a dance teacher.
The 43-year-old moved to Shropshire after she married truck hire company boss Anthony Elkes in May 2013. The couple had a daughter together less than a year later. The young girl would now be seven years old.
Before her child was born, 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 innocent.
I have done nothing wrong. I am entitled to enjoy my life. I am not going to apologise for being happy.”
The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It? airs its first episode on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight (January 9). Do you have a story you think we should be covering? Email email@example.com
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