Woodwards deny fraud allegations

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THE ESTRANGED parents of the former au pair and convicted killer Louise Woodward appeared in court yesterdaycharged with dishonestly obtaining more than pounds 9,000 from their daughter's appeal fund.

Gary and Sue Woodward, both 43, denied the two charges brought under the 1968 Theft Act during the 20-minute hearing at Chester magistrates' court. It is alleged the couple submitted a false invoice for accommodation expenses incurred by Mrs Woodward while staying at the home of her daughter's American lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, during Woodward's trial for second- degree murder .

The prosecution claims the pounds 9,113.50 invoice was submitted to the Louise Woodward and Family Trust and the couple received a cheque for that amount.

On the request of defence lawyers, the case was adjourned until 13 October, when the Woodwards are due to be committed to Crown Court for trial.

Sue and Gary Woodward were both granted an extension of their unconditional bail.

Reporting restrictions were not lifted.

In November 1997, Woodward, then 19, was convicted by a jury in Boston, Massachusetts, of the second-degree murder of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen when he was in her care. The judge reduced the conviction to manslaughter and the sentence to 279 days, the time she had spent in custody awaiting trial.