The child killers from Stock­port

Stockport Express - - History - BY STEVE CLIFFE Ed­i­tor of Stock­port Her­itage Magazine

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

●»ABOVE: The White House Tav­ern where the in­quest was held

●»LEFT: Busy Vic­to­rian Hill­gate, from where the tod­dler was ab­ducted

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