WHEN Deborah Eappen gave birth to her second child Matthew, she was overjoyed and immediately fell in love with her baby “butterball”.
But within a few months, all her happiness turned to hell when vile trolls blamed her for her baby’s death after he was “shaken to death” by teenage nanny Louise Woodward.
What followed was an abuse campaign against Deborah when people criticized Mom for returning to work three days a week and leaving little Matthew, described as a “real butterball” by his lovely mom, with a girl. au pair.
Woodward was 18 when he flew 3,100 miles to work for an au pair for an agency in Boston, Massachusetts after finishing her A-levels in 1996.
After worrying about Woodward staying out late into the night, in January 1997 they would make a list of expectations to ensure “the safety and well-being of our children,” the Irish Times reported.
But four days later, Woodward, then 19, called an ambulance at their home after eight-month-old Matthew stopped breathing.
Despite being rushed to hospital, the young man died six days later of a brain haemorrhage.
Woodward was arrested, with police alleging the teenager told them that he shook Matthew and threw him on a pile of towels, which led to her being charged with first degree murder.
History has made headlines around the world, shocking entire nations, and tonight ITV The documentary The Trial Of Louise Woodward will put him back in the spotlight.
Although Woodward was arrested, the evil trolls were quick to try to slander the name of Matthew’s mother, Deborah, accusing her of putting ambition above the needs of their children.
Both she and her husband were cruelly criticized by critics who branded them as “greedy yuppies” while insisting that Woodward was innocent.
The trolls created a sick narrative that baby Matthew’s death was actually their fault as they hired a nanny instead of taking care of himself.
Speaking with the Boston Herald in 2013, devastated mom Deborah said, “These cases are not about working parents.
“These are caregivers who lose control (with) a totally innocent and defenseless child.
“Why do we want to make excuses and think someone didn’t mean it? People want to think, “Oh, someone once lost it.”
‘MATERNAL NEGLECT SYMBOL’
While Woodward was the one on trial, public scrutiny fell directly on Deborah’s shoulders as she received a tirade of insults from strangers via hate mail.
The distraught mom was even attacked by radio talk show callers saying she should stay home with her kids.
Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara wrote that Deborah was “transformed from a personal tragedy into a public symbol of maternal neglect and yuppie greed.”
In a letter sent to Deborah, accused of “greed and poor judgment” for leaving her child with an au pair for the sake of her “lifestyle”, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
After being arrested, Woodward pleaded not guilty to a charge of beating a child.
With the world’s eyes on her trial, Woodward continued to maintain her innocence, but was criticized for appearing “cold” and “relentless”.
The prosecution alleged that she killed the child in “frustrated, unhappy and relentless anger” – a claim that the au pair’s lawyers strongly rejected.
These cases do not concern working parents. These are caregivers who lose control (with) a totally innocent and defenseless child.
Experts said the injuries were the classic symptoms of Shaken baby syndrome – an energetic action that causes severe brain damage or death.
His defense and brain surgeon Joseph Medsen, however, argued that Matthew’s death may have been caused by a head injury he got two weeks earlier.
Woodward wept when she was found guilty of an accused second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
But the case took a turn when two days after her sentencing, it emerged that the jury was split before she was ultimately found guilty.
An appeal was launched against her sentence and she was released within 10 days.
Judge Hiller Zobel overturned the jury’s verdict and instead ruled that she was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, sentencing her to 279 days in prison she had already served.
Despite the torment they suffered at the cruel hands of the trolls, Deborah and her husband Sunil went on to found the Matty Eappen Foundation in an effort to spread awareness of child abuse while continuing their work.
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