Fresh bid to put Woodward in jail

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The Independent Online
Prosecutors seeking to have British au pair Louise Woodward sent back to jail believe US courts have no right to hold her passport and prevent her leaving the country, it was reported last night. Louise faces court again today in a hearing that could lead to her spending Christmas in jail.

State attorneys in Massachusetts will argue that she should be locked up while she awaits a prosecution appeal against the reduction of her murder conviction for killing baby Matthew Eappen to manslaughter.

But last night there were indications that prosecutors fear Louise will be free to fly home if she is not behind bars.

Papers lodged with the Massachusetts Supreme Court by District Attorney Tom Reilly say: "Once the trial judge had reduced the jury's verdict to manslaughter and sentenced the defendant to time served, he had no authority to hold the defendant's passport."

Justice Ruth Abrams will today hear the prosecution argue that the Massachusetts legal system was fundamentally undermined by Judge Zobel's decision to overturn a verdict of second-degree murder.

She has the theoretical power to restore the murder verdict, but is thought highly unlikely to do so.

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