Facebook photo puts dad in dock for ‘murder’... 49 YEARS later
AN abusive stepfather lied about a toddler’s murder for nearly 50 years before the truth was finally uncovered, thanks to a faded photo posted on Facebook, a court heard yesterday.
David Dearlove, 71, maintained 19-month-old Paul Booth died as the result of an accidental fall from his bed on October 1, 1968.
He was finally charged with murder after the toddler’s brother Peter Booth, who was nearly four when Paul died, became angry when he saw an old black and white photo of the little boy being held by Dearlove on Facebook.
For years Mr Booth had been traumatised by the memory of what he saw through a crack in a door on the night Paul died, a jury was told. He had tried and failed to get the police to reopen the investigation on three occasions before he saw the Facebook picture in 2015 and demanded that Dearlove take it down.
He also told a family member for the first time what he had seen 47 years earlier. The cousin told police Paul’s death had been murder and an investigation began, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Yesterday Mr Booth finally told his story in public, saying he witnessed Dearlove swinging his brother by the ankles and smashing his head against a fire surround.
Prosecutor Richard Wright, QC, told the court there was no doubt a fractured skull had been the cause of Paul’s death.
Dearlove claimed Paul fell out of bed and struck his head on the floor. He was arrested last year in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he lives with his wife of 36 years.
The court was told that the boys’ mother Carol Booth, who is now dead, had three children including a girl, Stephanie, and had started a relationship with Dearlove in early 1968. They broke up in 1970.
Mr Booth, 53, yesterday faced his allegedly abusive stepfather across the courtroom to tell of the night he saw his brother’s death at their home in Stockton-on-Tees.
He said: ‘I sneaked downstairs because I was hungry, you learned to sneak about quietly when I was a kid. I went to the door that leads into the front room, it was ajar and I stuck my head through and saw David Dearlove and Paul in there. I could see David Dearloves’s back with his arms outstretched swinging Paul round. He swung round and caught Paul’s head on the fireplace.
‘There was a yelp, a scream and my Mam came through from the kitchen and I heard her shout, “What is going on”. I ran back up the stairs.’
Mr Booth added: ‘As we grew up it was never discussed, my mother would say, “You don’t know nothing, keep your mouth shut”.’
Dearlove denies murder and manslaughter. He is also alleged to have abused Stephanie and Peter and denies three charges of cruelty.
The case continues.
Tragic: Little Paul Booth with David Dearlove in the Facebook post