`Woodward baby was strangled', say doctors

A PAEDIATRIC doctor has claimed that the baby the au pair Louise Woodward was convicted of killing in the United States was not shaken to death as was claimed, but strangled.

Dr Floyd Gilles, a neuropathologist, and Dr. Marvin Nelson, a radiologist, reviewed the medical records of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen at the request of the US television channel CBS for a 60 Minutes programme to be shown tomorrow. Both doctors are associated with the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

According to Dr Gilles, someone squeezed Matthew's carotid artery, blocking the flow of blood to his brain. Sometimes when infants are strangled, it can take up to 48 hours for brain swelling to become evident, he said. He said he came to that conclusion because Matthew had "unexplained" injuries on his neck. Both doctors told CBS the evidence suggested Matthew had been serially abused.

A spokesman for the Children's Hospital said yesterday that the two doctors had agreed not to discuss their theory until the CBS broadcast.

Middlesex County district attorney, Martha Coakley, who was a co-prosecutor in the case, called the theory "crazy". "It makes no common sense. It makes no medical sense. It doesn't appear to be backed up at all," she said. "They say they believe their evidence casts doubt on the conviction of Louise Woodward. I believe that's irresponsible."

Ms Woodward was convicted in October 1997 of second-degree murder, which was reduced on appeal to involuntary manslaughter. She was freed to return home in June, after the ruling was upheld on further appeal. In January, she settled a civil wrongful death case with the baby's parents, Drs Sunil and Deborah Eappen of Boston.

Ms Woodward's lawyers claimed that the child was hit on the head about three weeks before his death, and then the injury re-bled, eventually killing him. The prosecution claimed that Ms Woodward shook Matthew for several minutes and slammed his head against a hard object.

Ms Woodward's solicitors said last night they might call for the case to be reopened after assessing the claims. "If [Matthew] died of an older injury then of course it is important to the case and the conviction of Louise," a spokesman said.

Frederic Ellis, the Eappens' lawyer, said the theory that the baby was strangled was absurd. He said experts at the trial said Matthew's only neck injuries were from a medical procedure to try to get him breathing again. He said that Dr Gilles was not a child-abuse expert but an expert in tumours.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living