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Louise Woodward Index

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Previous news

Looking Good For Louise
- Seven Supreme Court Judges hear Au-Pair's Appeal
- Prosecution stumble in Boston Hearing
- Status Quo, Retrial or Dismissal likely

Seven Supreme Court Judges hear Au-Pair's Appeal
Oral submissions in Louise Woodward's Appeal have taken place in Boston's Supreme Court , Monday 9 March 1998. The seven appeal judges, five men and two women, grilled appellate lawyers for both the defence and Commonwealth (prosecution) in the one hour hearing.

Prosecution stumble in Boston Hearing
Early indications are that the prosecution failed to argue sufficient grounds for a restitution of the Jury's second degree murder verdict. They also failed to come up with persuasive or any reasons for the appeal judges to increase Louise's sentence were they to uphold the manslaughter conviction.

Sabita Singh accused trial Judge Zobel of "throwing out the jury system/verdict", but this view was not well received by the judges present who vigorously defended their right to use discretion in such matters.

Manslaughter to stick, Retrial or Dismissal likely
From the questions asked by the Supreme Court Judges it seems they are debating whether to order a retrial, uphold the manslaughter conviction or order a dismissal (the latter two allowing Louise to come home).

It is always difficult to pre-judge the judges. However, from their defence of Judge Zobel's right to exercise his discretionary powers and concern over the lack of notice given to the prosecution re the skull fracture, it does seem things are looking good for Louise. A retrial may require the exhumation of baby Eappen's body for further examination, so this will have to be considered very carefully.

The Court now has 4 months to make its ruling, although it is believed this may come sooner rather than later.

Courthouse Chaos in Boston
- Transformer EXPLODES in basement
- Louise Appeal DELAYED until Monday9 March

Louise Woodward's final appeal hearing was been postponed until Monday 9 March 1998 following the explosion of a transformer in the basement of the Boston Courthouse.

Amid scenes of chaos bordering on farce Louise and her family, the legal teams, judges and press were evacuated from the Massachusetts court building. The au pair will now have to wait until at least 72 hours (and probably far longer) to discover her fate.

Louise: Final Appeal D-Day

"Let me go home"

Both the defence and prosecution are now set for the full and final appeal hearing on Monday 9 March 1998. The Appeal in front of seven judges at Massachusetts Supreme Court allows both parties just 25 minutes to orally present their previously submitted written arguments.

Louise Woodward herself has been living with one of her lawyers in posh Marblehead, an affluent suburb of Boston. She has told reporters for the UK Channel Four documentary Dispatches "I am scared of going back to gaol".

Fearing the worst she said "The most I hope for, I guess is that they will just leave it alone and let me go home".

Previous blood clot

The documentary casts further doubt about the validity of her conviction. Leading UK neurosurgeon Professor John Pickard from Cambridge's Addenbrooke Hospital says "it is pretty incontrovertible...that it was a previous blood clot".

Dr David Fagan from Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham referring to the initial US diagnosis says "I find it incredible that an apparently competent neuropathologist should miss something like that".

Woodward's lawyer Barry Scheck said "If Louise loses this she could spend the rest of her life in gaol and since I believe very much we have proven that this is an old injury and that she couldn't have done what was she was accused of doing I find that unimaginable, so it's pretty scary".

Louise: Appeal held back to Spring

Justice Abraham told Louise's lawyers and Commonwealth prosecutors Wednesday 3 December 1997 that both of their appeals would be heard together. She also ordered the transcripts from the original trial to be made ready as soon as possible.

The Commonwealth's appeal is against Judge Zobel's decision to reduce her conviction to manslaughter and her sentence to time served. The Defence are fighting her conviction arguing for it to be quashed.

Meanwhile Justice Abraham failed to rule on Louise's travel restrictions. She is likely to have to remain in Massachusetts until the full hearing in March.

US backlash

Now the party is almost over...critics of Judge Zobel's "leniency" have been emerging in the USA to condemn the release of Louise Woodward. A poll for US television's ABC showed a clear majority believed she had got off lightly.

On Louise's release her supporters in Elton Cheshire had cheered the night away in their local pub. This was seen to be in questionable taste by many stateside, following the tragic death of baby Matthew.

Meanwhile the fight to clear Louise's name is being continued in both the UK by her campaign team and in Boston by her defence lawyers.

Campaign continues

The campaign to prove Louise's innocence goes on. Her former au pair agency has agreed to fund the defence's appeal against conviction. Her defence team are keen to see the appeal called as soon as possible.


Louise Woodward is staying in a Boston safe house with her parents. She has been ordering Ferero chocolates by the dozen. On release she called to her sister and she is reported to have said she expected a ten year sentence.


Judge Zobel released Louise after reducing her sentence to manslaughter. He sentenced her to the 279 days she had already served. He said that was "the compassionate conclusion" to this case.

However, following a bizarre prosecution request she has had to surrender her passport pending a further hearing within 30 days.


Prosecution attorney Gerry Leone argued for the sentence to be bewtween 15 years and the maximum for manslaughter in Massachussets, 20 years. Defence attorney Andrew Good reinforced his clients protestation of innocence and asked for her to be sentenced to time served. Louise once more addressed the judge, protesting her innocence.

Judge Zobel sentenced Louise at 8.00pm Monday (London time, 3.00pm Boston time). He had the power to reduce her sentence to a shorter prison term or probation.


Judge Hiller Zobel reduced Louise's conviction from murder in the second degree to manslaughter. Revised sentencing took place shortly afterwards. For Zobel's full judgement see: http://www.lawyersweekly.com

Appeal Hearing

JUDGE Hiller Zobel had told the press that they should not expect a decision before Monday 10 November.

The judge had started off Tuesday's appeal hearing by announcing that he would not be making a final ruling immediately. Now we know we have to wait until at least next Monday.

Defence and prosecution were allowed one hour each for their submissions at the hearing. The defence pleaded for a not guilty verdict, a re-trial or a reduction in sentence to manslaughter.

Barry Sheck for Louise Woodward argued that the late disclosure of critical photos of Matthew's injuries was extremely prejudicial to her case.

Prosecutors argued that the Jury did act reasonably with access to sufficient evidence to convict of second degree murder.

Louise Appeal

The likely defence submissions on 4 November 1997 could include the following matters which may have prejudiced her trial...(Click for Grounds of Appeal details)

Louise Woodward Campaign:

Contact details

The campaign to free her is being directed from a pub in Louise's home village of Elton. Letters of support for Louise and her family can be sent to (Click here for details)

Guilty or Not Guilty?

Have your say...email us at: louise@londonnet.co.uk
"there are reasonable doubts..."
"In my heart and in my experience, I think she is guilty..."
95% say not guilty | 5% say guilty
Click here to read a selection of your letters so far

NB We have been inundated with letters from around the world, we will read every one and publish a selection of your views on these pages


Links to other Louise Woodward Pages:

Don't forget ... LondonNet's News Headlines

Judgement delivered on WWW

In what is believed to be a legal first, Judge Zobel announced that his judgement will be delivered live on the ...LondonNet will bring you news of the rulings as soon as they are... (Click Here)

DA offers Louise manslaughter

DISTRICT Attorney Tom Reilly has told reporters that he would not have resisted a defence motion to reduce Louise's conviction from murder to manslaughter.

Louise's lawyers were reluctant to accept the offer as she would have needed to admit that she caused Matthew's injuries, albeit unintentionally. The Cheshire teenager had protested her innocence throughout the investigation and trial.

Jurors admit miscarriage

LOUISE Woodward was found guilty of murder in the second degree because the jury was unable to convict her of manslaughter. So says Woodward juror Jodie Garber, who argues the other jurors felt the same way.

The news puts more pressure on the legal parties at the hearing. Defence lawyers have been criticized for not accepting the manslaughter charge offerred by the prosecution at the last breath of the trial.

The prosecuting attorney, Gerard Leone has been condemned by the English Bar for setting out the offence of manslaughter rather than murder in his extraordinarily partisan closing speech. Judge Zobel has been attacked for not explaining the requisite elements of the offence of murder to the jury.

Alternate jurors outraged

SCUFFLING took place in the jury area when the four alternate jurors discovered that their fellows had found Louise guilty of murder. If any of these four had served on the final panel, Louise would have walked. The odds of none of these four making it through to the last twelve jurors is 1820 - 1.

"My Louise went like a lamb to the slaughter"; boyfriend

Britain's tabloid newspaper The News of The World has carried an exclusive with Louise's one and only love, Simon Holmes. He said "You tell me how can such a sweet girl who prided herself on being so virtuous could harm a child, let alone kill her".

He added Louise, 19, insisted on keeping her virginity, saying she wanted to wait for the right moment.

LIFE for Louise

LOUISE Woodward has been found guilty of murder in the second degree. She was sentenced to the mandatory life sentence.

On hearing the verdict 19 year old Louise broked down in tears, sobbing "I didn't do it", "how could they do this to me?" She was comforted by defence lawyer, Andrew Good. The silver haired attorney later told the press that "the system has failed her".

Life Imprisonment

JUDGE Zobel sentenced Louise to the mandatory life term Friday morning after hearing representations from her and Matthew's parents Deborah and Sunil Eappen. She faces a minimum period of 15 years, with no eligibilty for parole until that time.

D-Day for Louise Woodward

BRITISH au pair Loiuse Woodward's fate was determined late on Thursday night.

Her life was in the hands of a Massachussetts jury composed of nine women and three men. They deliberated for five hours Tuesday, all day Wednesday and Thursday. The jury spent the nights in a local hotel, cut off from the outside world.

Woodward, 19, from Cheshire stood accused of the murder of eight month old Matthew Eappen. Convicted of murder in the second degree murder she will be entitled to parole late into her life sentence.

The former au pair chose not to face an alternate charge of manslaughter. The shock move is known as the "noose or loose" option.

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