ITV commissions Louise Woodward film

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

ITV is to air a documentary about the trial of Louise Woodward, the 19-year-old au pair accused of murdering a 9 month old baby in the United States.

It marks 25 years since the 1997 trial of the Cheshire teenager, which became headline news on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Trial of Louise Woodward (Working Title) is being produced by Voltage TV and will feature those closest to the case - include some who’ve not spoken about it since it ended.

"Like millions of others, I remember being gripped by the daily twists and turns of the extraordinary court case as it was headline news every night,” explained Sanjay Singhal Executive Producer for Voltage TV.

“I’d like to try to show what it must have been like to go through that for both sides: a young British woman at the centre of a legal storm – and the bereaved parents who felt that justice was not done because of a scientific argument that continues to this day."

The film will examine whether advances in medical science since 1997 might have changed the verdict in this case, it will also bring “revealing insights” from the experts for the prosecution and defence who “ferociously disagreed” about key facts at the time. 

Some claimed Woodward had violently shaken Matthew Eappen in a "frustrated, unhappy and resentful rage”, while others asserted his injuries were several months old. 

There will also be interviews with the judge and jury who failed to reach agreement on her sentence. The jury’s “guilty” verdict would have led to a 15 year sentence for murder, but it was downgraded to manslaughter in a last-minute move by the presiding judge.

“The trial of Louise Woodward made a unique impact and is still vividly remembered now, decades later,” said Tom Giles, ITV Controller of Current Affairs.

“This film, with its close access to the key figures involved in the case, promises to deliver an eye-opening insight into the pressures bearing down on proceedings to tell us how and why it played out as it did and how its conclusion is a continuing source of division.”