Swedish nanny says Eappens turned on her

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The Independent Online
As the campaign to free Louise Woodward, the British teenager convicted of the murder of baby Matthew Eappen, gathered pace in Britain and America last night, her predecessor at the Eappen family home revealed why she fled her employers.

Jenny Vestbro, who immediately preceded Woodward as the Eappens' live- in helper, revealed in an exclusive interview with the Independent on Sunday that she fled the home after her employers unexpectedly turned "unpleasant" on her.

She also said that a representative of the nanny agency she and Woodward worked for had suggested that the British teenager appeared indifferent about the death of baby Matthew.

Vestbro added that if she had stayed "maybe things would have been different".

Her comments came as donations to the Louise Woodward Campaign for Justice Fund climbed towards pounds 100,000.

Meanwhile, the presiding judge in the trial, Hiller Zobel, faced growing pressure to exercise his right to mitigate the teenager's plight. Among the voices weighing in yesterday were those of the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

In Britain, hotlines set up by several newspapers revealed an average of 90 per cent of the country believe Woodward to be innocent.

In America outrage at the verdict has swept the country. Last night one juror, Jodie Garber, was reported as saying that the jury wanted to consider a manslaughter charge which could have meant the 19-year-old walking free from court. But the Woodward defence team ruled out the option of manslaughter, leaving the jury with only the choice of acquittal or guilty of murder.

Donations to the Woodward Fund have been flooding in from all over the world. The group is also calling for a candlelight vigil at American embassies and for people to wear yellow ribbons and hang yellow banners in support of the jailed Cheshire au pair.

Anger on both sides of the Atlantic focuses on the contrast between the acquittal of OJ Simpson and the life sentence handed down to the nanny.

Full interview, page 3

Special report, Section 2 front