'Dearlove will now face the consequences of his horrendous actions' after witness brother's vital testimony
For nearly 50 years Great Yarmouth man David Dearlove covered up the murder of his stepson.
Medical evidence obtained from toddler Paul Booth’s post-mortem examination in 1968 played a crucial role in David Dearlove’s conviction.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it had not been able to exhume the child’s body as burial records have been lost, meaning the case relied on the documents prepared for his inquest at the time.
The pathologist found bruises on his body, and crucially on his ankles, indicating he had been gripped.
That backed up Peter Booth’s account of seeing Dearlove swing his little brother into the mantelpiece.
David Dearlove, of Wolseley Road, was seen attacking 19-month-old Paul Booth in 1968 by the little boy’s brother Peter, then aged just three, when he crept downstairs for a drink.
The 71-year-old was found guilty of murdering the toddler at the family home, telling a jury at Teesside Crown Court that the boy had suffered the fatal head injury by falling out of bed.
Peter Booth, 53, said he had crept downstairs from his bedroom when he saw his stepdad swinging 19-month-old Paul by his ankles and smashing his head on the mantelpiece.
At the second day of Deardlove’s trail Mr Booth told Teesside Crown Court after his brother’s death in 1968, he eventually plucked up the courage to tell police in the mid-1990s but nothing was done.
He said he again walked into a police station 10 years later to try to explain but it was not until he spoke to the police a third time in 2015 that his allegations were acted on.
“I remember getting out of bed, feeling hungry or thirsty, going downstairs and seeing what I should not have seen and carpering back upstairs,” he said.
“All you were ever told was Paul had died by falling out of bed and hitting his head. When I told my mum what I had seen she totally blanked me and did not want to know.
“Whenever Paul’s name was mentioned, just a brick wall would go up.
“We were never asked, it was never spoken about. One minute he was there the next he was gone.
“The image has haunted me since I was almost four years old to standing here today.”
The court heard that the boys’ mother, Carol Booth, had three children, including a girl called Stephanie, and they lived in Haverton Hill, Stockton.
Ms Booth, who is now dead, had started a relationship with Dearlove in 1968.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said there was no doubt that a fractured skull was the cause of Paul’s death, but the jury needed to decide how it had happened.
Mr Wright said doctors found multiple bruises of “differing ages” and he had suffered numerous “non-accidental injuries” and they had often happened when only Dearlove was in charge of him and the abuse also allegedly extended to the two siblings.
50 years of lies
John Brennan from the CPS said: “For almost 50 years David Dearlove has lied about the death of his stepson, who he said fell out his bed and accidentally injured his head.
“Throughout this investigation he gave false explanations and also lied about significant injuries which the baby had suffered in the weeks before he died.
“Those lies have been exposed thanks to Peter Booth, and Dearlove will now face the consequences of his horrendous actions.
“Alongside Mr Booth’s testimony the CPS was able to present medical evidence that assessed the injuries Paul suffered five decades ago in light of scientific developments since then.
“This included evidence concerning bruising to Paul’s ankles, which supported Mr Booth’s account that Dearlove had grabbed him and swung him into the fireplace that evening.
“Thanks to Mr Booth’s bravery and that of his sister who also assisted the investigation, as well as the clear evidence presented to the jury, Dearlove will be held to account for Paul Booth’s death.”
A baby doll was used as a graphic piece of evidence to convict David Dearlove of murder almost 50 years after the act.
The resuscitation mannequin was marked with blue pen to show the bruises and burns that were found on toddler Paul Booth at his post mortem examination in October 1968.
As well as marks on elsewhere on his body, there were bruises on his feet and around his neck and the jury heard these were not the usual places a small child would hurt themselves accidentally in play.
Home Office pathologist Mark Egan used the doll to demonstrated how he thought Paul could have died by swinging the doll by the ankles and banging its head on the surface of the witness box.
Some of the 10 women and two men on the jury wept when they saw the demonstration.
Dr Egan told Teesside Crown Court he believed it would have taken separate blows to cause the”z-shaped” skull fracture on the side of Paul’s head.
Dearlove claimed the child must have injured himself falling out of bed onto the concrete floor and that was what he told police in 1968.
When he was arrested in 2015 he said Paul had collapsed when he was downstairs in the living room.
He explained he changed his story in 2015 because he had forgotten the events of 1968 and insisted to the jury that the toddler’s fatal fall did happen in the bedroom.
The jury heard expert evidence that the array of injuries on Paul’s body indicated they were not accidental, but were caused by someone in the house.
Dearlove had told the jury that Carol Booth was a good mother to the children and she did not hurt them.
Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, asked him: “Who was hurting Paul?”
Dearlove replied: “I don’t know.”