The child killers from Stockport
FROM time to time little-known murder cases have appeared in the Heritage Magazine and none more shocking than those of children, with one of a mother convicted of strangling her babies in our latest issue.
By far the most disturbing was that covered in Vol.3 No.6 which had parallels with the infamous James Bulger case.
A toddler playing outside the Star and Garter on Hillgate was abducted by two eight-year-old boys on April 11, 1861.
Peter Barratt and James Bradley dragged two-year-old George Burgess down Hempshaw Lane.
Beside the brook near Love Lane they undressed the boy and, taking sticks from a hedge, began to beat him and push him into the water.
A farm labourer later found the boy’s bloody, naked body face down in the brook.
Police traced the two abductors to their homes on Hillgate.
As in the Bulger case, neither showed remorse or understanding of what they had done.
After a trial at Chester, where the tiny prisoners could not see over the handrail of the dock, they were spared a death sentence and sent instead to a reformatory at Bradwall in Cheshire, from which they were released after five years.
Crime writer Gitta Sereny, who researched the Burgess case with Stockport Library staff in 1995, wrote: “Today, when our education system is failing to reach a huge number of our most vulnerable children, when the waning of religious influence has weakened the moral framework of our lives and when our children need more discipline, less entertainment ... we ask how deficiencies in our society have contributed to similar cases.”
Gitta was referring to the James Bulger case and Mary Bell (an infamous child killer from the 1960s).
Gitta had interviewed former Nazis who denied their guilt and attempted to analyse the problem of moral responsibility for violent crime, finding adults as well as children excuse their actions.
The Star and Garter still trades as a pub on Hillgate, but the White House Tavern on Hempshaw Lane, where little George’s battered body lay in a coffin for the coroner’s jury to see while the inquest was being held there, has another use.
Nowadays it is a toddlers’ crèche. »»More detail of these stories can be found in Stockport Heritage Magazine on sale in all newsagents, W H Smith, Co-ops and in our back copies online – search for stockport heritage magazine.co.uk.
●»ABOVE: The White House Tavern where the inquest was held
●»LEFT: Busy Victorian Hillgate, from where the toddler was abducted