#29 | Murders of the 90s Part Two: Louise Woodward

This week on Up To 90, we talk Louise Woodward – a 19-year-old British au pair who in 1997 was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care in his home in Newton, Massachusetts, in the United States.

The case provoked entrenched responses on both sides as the defence argued against the prosecution’s insistence that this was a clear case of Shaken Baby Syndrome and posited that Matthew’s death was the result of older, accidental injuries.

Cultural norms were called into question, working mothers were vilified, au-pair agencies were exposed as being grossly exploitative and negligent in failing to train their employees, neuropathologists came to loggerheads with emergency physicians, the British ‘stiff upper lip’ came under scrutiny and Woodward herself drew attention for her seemingly strange reactions and responses on the stand-particularly in relation to the question on which her life was to pivot: did she in fact hurt Matty?

Second only to that of OJ Simpson (whose defence lawyer Barry Scheck also represented Louise Woodward), this case gained notoriety around the world as TV audiences around the world tuned in daily to follow the trial of Louise Woodward with a near morbid fascination.

We talk heartbreaking tragedy, violence, protests, judicial u-turns, risky strategies and what befell various parties in the years following the infamous 1997 murder trial.

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