In her first in-depth interview since returning home from the United States, Louise Woodward said she was made a scapegoat for the death of a baby in her care because authorities had to find someone to blame.
"The mentality is that somebody has to pay. You know, and that seemed to be the problem, that, well, if the parents didn't do it, who did? There's only you left," she told the British Broadcasting Corp. in an interview scheduled for broadcast Monday night. Excerpts were broadcast earlier on BBC television news.An attorney representing the baby's family in a civil suit against Woodward said former au pair "already told her story and was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury, a judge and seven justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Court."
"It is obvious she is now more interested in her celebrity status than the truth," said attorney Fredric Ellis.
Prosecutors said Woodward, who returned to Britain on Thursday convicted of manslaughter, shook 8-month-old Matthew Eappen to death in February 1997. She has always maintained her innocence.
"There was the whole feeling that somebody had to pay and that somebody had to be me. But like I say, you know, I didn't do anything wrong," Woodward said in the interview, according to excerpts released by the BBC.
Woodward was allowed to leave the United States after a Massachusetts high court upheld a lower court judge's decision last November to reduce her second-degree murder conviction to manslaughter and sentence her to the 279 days she had already spent in prison.
The 20-year-old Woodward said she was fortunate her sentence was not longer.
But she added: "I think 279 days is a long time for an innocent person to serve. For when it's 279 days of agonizing, worry and pain, being torn away from your family, being locked up in a prison in a strange country - and please remember that I was 18 when I went into prison - and being scared, for something that you didn't even do."
A photograph released by the BBC of Woodward being interviewed by reporter Martin Bashir drew criticism Monday from The Sun and The Mirror newspapers, which saw echoes of Bashir's famous interview with Princess Diana in 1995. During the interview, Diana talked of the breakdown of her marriage.