Toddler’s fatal head injury is examined in Great Yarmouth man’s murder trial
PUBLISHED: 17:36 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:42 17 November 2017
Great Yarmouth man David Dearlove has heard a head injury which killed his toddler stepson was more likely to have been caused by him being swung against a fireplace than him falling out of bed.
Dearlove, 71, of Wolseley Road, stands accused of murdering his stepson Paul Booth, aged 19 months, at the then family home in Haverton Hill, Stockton, in October 1968.
Teesside Crown Court has heard the little boy’s brother Peter claim that when he was three he saw Dearlove holding the toddler by the ankles and swinging his head against the mantelpiece.
Dearlove said at the time that Paul hurt himself falling from his bed.
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Dr Alison Steele, a paediatrician of more than 30 years, has studied documents including the coroner’s statement, police reports, black and white photographs of the boy’s injuries and witness statements.
She was asked whether the injuries were more likely to have been caused by Paul’s head being struck against the fire surround, or by a fall from bed.
She said: “I think moving at speed into a hard edge gives you much more force than falling out of bed that is 27 inches high on to a flat surface, albeit concrete.
“The mechanism that gives a greater amount of force would seem to be the more likely one.
“It is not that the other is impossible, it is just that this is the one that gives more force.”
Paul suffered a fractured skull and died from a brain injury after being taken to hospital.
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Dr Steele’s experience was that a fatal head injury from falling out of bed was “highly unlikely” for a toddler.
She said Paul’s body was extensively bruised to the front and back, around his jaw and on the tops of his feet when the post-mortem was carried out.
Dr Steele said: “You are not dealing with an isolated head injury.
“It was the head injury that killed the child, but what you have is a lot of other injuries, albeit superficial and not life-threatening, to other parts of the body.”
He also was found to have burns on his hand and calf, she said.
Dearlove denies murder, manslaughter and three charges of cruelty.
The trial continues next week.