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Louise Woodward trial: How mum of baby ‘shaken to death’ by nanny was blamed by vile trolls for leaving him with au pair


WHEN Deborah Eappen gave birth to her second son Matthew, she was overjoyed and instantly fell in love with her “butterball” baby.

But within months, her entire happiness turned to hell when vile trolls blamed her for the death of her own baby after he was “shaken to death” by teen nanny Louise Woodward.


Deborah Eappen was subject to a vile campaign of abuse by trolls who blamed her for her baby’s death[/caption]

AP:Associated Press

Louise Woodward, 19 at the time, was arrested after little Matthew died[/caption]

AP:Associated Press

Matthew Eappen had been in the care of Louise Woodward for less than three months when he died[/caption]

What would follow was a campaign of abuse against Deborah as people blasted the mum for returning to work three days a week and leaving little Matthew, described as a “real butterball” by his doting mum, with an au pair.

Woodward was 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.

By that November, she had been hired by Sunil and Deborah Eappen, both 30-year-old doctors, to take care of their tot Matthew.

After becoming concerned about Woodward staying out late at night, 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.

But four days later, Woodward, then 19, called an ambulance to their home after eight-month-old Matthew stopped breathing.

Despite being rushed to hospital, the youngster died six days later of a brain haemorrhage.

Woodward was arrested, with police claiming the teen told them she shook Matthew and threw him on a pile of towels, which led to her being charged with first-degree murder.

The story made headlines all over the world, shocking entire nations, and tonight ITV documentary The Trial Of Louise Woodward will bring it back into the spotlight.

Although Woodward was arrested, nasty trolls were quick to try and smear the name of Matthew’s mum Deborah as they accused her of putting ambition ahead of the needs of her own children.

Both she and her husband were cruelly blasted by critics who branded them “greedy yuppies” while insisting Woodward was innocent.

Trolls created a sick narrative that little Matthew’s death was in fact their fault as they had hired a nanny instead of looking after him themselves.

Speaking to the Boston Herald in 2013, devastated mum Deborah said: “These cases are not about parents working.

“It’s about caregivers losing control (with) a totally innocent and defenseless child.

“Why do we want to make excuses and think somebody didn’t mean it? People kind of want to think, ‘Oh, one time, somebody lost it.”


While Woodward was the one on trial, public scrutiny fell squarely on Deborah’s shoulders as she received a tirade of abuse from strangers via hate mail.

The heartbroken mum was even attacked by callers to radio talk shows who said she should have stayed home with her kids.

Eileen McNamara, a columnist for the Boston Globe, wrote that Deborah was “transformed by personal tragedy into a public symbol of maternal neglect and yuppie greed”.

In one letter sent to Deborah, it accused her of “greed and poor judgement” for leaving her baby with an au pair for the sake of her “lifestyle”, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

After being arrested, Woodward pleaded not guilty to one charge of battery of a child. 

With the eyes of the world on her trial, Woodward continued to maintain her innocence – but was criticised for appearing “cold” and “remorseless”.

The prosecution alleged she killed the baby in a “frustrated, unhappy and relentless rage” – a claim the au pair’s lawyers strongly rejected.

These cases are not about parents working. It’s about caregivers losing control (with) a totally innocent and defenseless child.

Deborah Eappen

Experts said the injuries were classic symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome – a forceful action that causes serious brain damage or death.

Her defence and brain surgeon Joseph Medsen, however, argued Matthew’s death could have resulted from a head injury obtained two weeks earlier. 

Woodward wept as she was found guilty of a lesser second-degree murder charged and handed a life sentence.

But the case took a twist when two days after her conviction, it emerged the jury was split before she was ultimately found guilty.

An appeal was launched against her sentence, and within 10 days she was released.

Judge Hiller Zobel overturned the jury’s verdict and instead ruled she was guilty of involuntary manslaughter – sentencing her to the 279 days in jail she had already served.

Despite the torment they suffered at the cruel hands of trolls, Deborah and her husband Sunil went on to found the Matty Eappen Foundation in a bid to spread awareness about child abuse, while continuing their jobs.

AP:Associated Press

Sunil Eappen and wife Deborah were accused of being ‘greedy yuppies’[/caption]

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