Convicted baby killer Woodward plans to wed

WHAT does a convicted child killer do with her life? Louise Woodward teaches salsa, tango and ballroom dance classes four nights a week in a parish hall. She has completed a law degree and is now planning to walk up the aisle.

It is a remarkable turnaround for Woodward.

The British au pair was convicted, aged 19, of the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen, in his home in Newton, Massachusetts. Matthew died on February 9, 1997, from a fractured skull, five days after being admitted to hospital and falling into a coma. The child was said by doctors to have died of shaken baby syndrome.

Media interest in the case was intense.

The defence argued there were no neck injuries to Eappen — injuries that would have been expected if he had been violently shaken.

On October 30, 1997, the jury found Woodward guilty of second degree murder and she faced 15 years to life in prison.

In the days following the verdict it emerged that the jury had been split about the murder charge, but those who had favoured an acquittal were persuaded to accept a conviction.

On November 10, Judge Hiller B. Zobel reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter.

Woodward’s sentence was reduced to time served (279 days) and she was freed and returned to England.

Woodward went on to study law at London South Bank University, where she graduated in July 2002. However, she later dropped law to pursue a career as a ballroom and Latin dance teacher.

She recently started dating 27-year-old Antony Elkes. who runs a forklift truck sales and hire business. They are planning to get married and have a family: “What has happened will always stay with me ... But I hope that one day I will be truly vindicated. After everything, I’ve turned out normal. I have to say I think that is quite an achievement.”

Woodward claims new evidence could clear her name. Dr Patrick Barnes, a star prosecution witness at her trial, has now changed his mind.

Dr Barnes believes the death of Eappen could have been caused by an old injury and said: “The science we have today could, in fact, have exonerated Louise. There is certainly, in retrospect, reasonable doubt.”

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd