Woodward: victory greeted with restraint

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The Independent Online
The rowdy joy of Monday night was replaced by restraint on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday as the Woodward family and their supporters concentrated on showing quiet respect for Matthew Eappen.

With a sense of anger mounting in America over Judge Zobel's decision to free Louise came the realisation in Britain that cheers and smiles suddenly felt completely inappropriate.

In Boston, Louise and her parents, Gary and Susan, were locked away in a hotel room. There were comfort and treats for Louise in the confines of the Hyatt at Boston's Logan Airport - but it was a form of confinement nonetheless.

Woodward issued a statement last night to thank Judge Zobel for freeing her and to mourn baby Matthew. "I have been deeply saddened by Matthew Eappen's death. I pray that further investigation into the scientific evidence convinces the Eappen family that I did their son no harm." she said.

In Elton, Cheshire, supporters heeded the advice from America and limited their comments to expressions of sympathy for the Eappen family. Jean Jones, the family friend who started a campaign fund with just pounds 22, said she would like any surplus to finance a children's charity in Matthew's name. Last night, with the proceeds exceeding pounds 300,000, it seemed there would be plenty left over. "I would truly like to see some good come out of this tragedy," she said. "When I said that there are no winners in this case, there haven't been. Perhaps with the help of the money there could be. There has been a lot of pain and hurt on both sides. No one thinks badly of the Eappens, no one thinks badly of Louise, it is just a terrible thing that has happened.

"If they could accept it in the way it was given, that would be wonderful. We just want the Eappens to know we feel their pain."

The Rev Ken Davey, vicar of Ince and Elton, was at pains to say that the cheers that greeted Louise's sentencing in Boston were not triumphant but "a shout of relief".

"Matthew was placed on our All Souls' Day list and we will continue to think of him and pray for him and his family as we have done since February," he said.

Louise's sister, Vicky, who has remained at home to study psychology at university, also went to ground. Steve Collins, a family friend who has been looking after her throughout the trial, said the 18 year old is "distraught" and needs some privacy.

She will continue her studies but will stay at the family home until her parents and Louise return, said Mr Collins.