Eappen goes on the offensive

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The Independent Online
As Judge Zobel pondered whether he should lessen the Murder Two verdict passed on Louise Woodward, Deborah Eappen struck back at British reaction. David Usborne in Boston witnessed an extraordinary attack by the mother of baby Matthew.

You could almost hear the collective nerves unwinding in Cambridge yesterday like air escaping from a balloon. No, Judge Hiller Zobel would not be issuing his decision on the fate of Louise Woodward on this day, and indeed would not be saying anything about it until Monday at the earliest.

"I didn't think he would," said Woodward's mother, Susan, when she was told in the lobby of a nearby hotel. "I suppose I can relax for a few days now." But Deborah Eappen, baby Matthew's mother, who has been heavily criticised on both sides of the Atlantic, had no time to relax. Appearing on television for her second interview since the trial began, she launched an attack at reaction to the verdict - accusing the British of being jealous of her qualifications. "How can they like me when they want to make someone a villain? Other than the person responsible for murdering a baby," she said on Larry King Live on CNN.

Mr and Mrs Woodward also appeared on television last night thanking people for the thousands of letters and e-mails they had received in support of their daughter. Her father, Gary, said: "Obviously she was devastated by the result of the trial and it has been a hard job trying to keep her spirits up but we do our best."

Judge Zobel has the option of upholding the Murder Two conviction and life sentence passed on Woodward last week or taking one of three steps: reducing the conviction to one of manslaughter, order a new trial, or throwing out the conviction and freeing her. Come next Monday, the Woodwards as well as the media - will once again be on high alert. However, attention will be focused on the Internet, where the judge will publish his decision.