Woodward: First taste of freedom

Medical science will one day show conclusively that Matthew Eappen was the victim of an old head injury, says Louise Woodward. Rubbish, reply a group of more than 40 doctors. David Usborne listened to the latest controversy in the Boston nanny case.

A group of 50 paediatricians specialising in child abuse came forward yesterday to denounce the core scientific claims presented by Louise Woodward's defence lawyers in her murder trial as "courtroom diagnosis, not medical diagnosis".

The bluntly-worded statement, sent in the form of a letter to US media organisations came after Woodward declared in a statement that the "science underlying the case" would one day vindicate her.

During the trial, Barry Scheck, one of Woodward's lawyers, brought a parade of seemingly eminently qualified doctors to the stand to back up his contention that Matthew Eappen suffered a head injury and clot up to three weeks before 4 February and that some kind of mild shock caused a re-bleeding of the clot on that day.

In the letter yesterday, the doctors attacked that claim. "The hypothesis put forward by the defence that minor trauma caused a 're-bleed' of an earlier head injury can best be characterised as inaccurate, contrary to vast clinical experience, and unsupported by any published literature."

The letter, signed by doctors in Boston, Chicago, Maine, and 47 others from the United States, Canada and Australia, said: "The re-bleed theory in infants is a courtroom diagnosis, not a medical diagnosis, and the jury properly rejected it. Infants simply do not suffer massive head injury, show no significant symptoms for days, then suddenly collapse and die."

Dr Robert Reece, a director at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was one of those who authored the letter. "We felt the evidence introduced was erroneous and was being accepted by the court as fact, when it isn't." Speaking of the reaction among paediatricians to the evidence he added: "There is major revulsion about this."

Woodward, whose fortunes were dramatically reversed on Monday when Judge Hiller Zobel cut her conviction in the killing of Matthew Eappen to one of manslaughter and freed her with time served, last night left the Boston airport hotel where she had been staying, affording the waiting media their first glimpse of her since her dramatic release. She boarded a ferry in Boston harbour, apparently on her way to the seclusion of a "safe" house pending her appeal. However, she later returned to the hotel.

President Bill Clinton's spokesman was drawn into the debate yesterday. Asked about the case, Mike McCurry told reporters that the President had "noted the judge's remarks" and believed that "the judge was in the best position to decide" on reducing the charge and setting a sentence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

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
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
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before