Toddler’s fatal injuries consistent with being swung against fireplace, murder trial hears

David Dearlove with Paul Booth, weeks before the child died. Pic: Cleveland Police/PA Wire.

David Dearlove with Paul Booth, weeks before the child died. Pic: Cleveland Police/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Great Yarmouth man David Dearlove has heard injuries suffered by his stepson almost 50 years ago were consistent with him being swung against a fireplace.

David Dearlove leaves the court on the first day of his trial. He is accused or murdering his step-s

David Dearlove leaves the court on the first day of his trial. He is accused or murdering his step-son. Picture: Evening Gazette - Credit: Evening Gazette

David Dearlove, 71, of Wolseley Road, is accused of murdering his stepson Paul Booth, aged 19 months, at the then family home in Haverton Hill, Stockton, in October 1968.

Dearlove, who today faced the fifth day of his murder trial, says the little boy collapsed after falling out of bed at the family home near Teesside.

Paul's brother Peter sparked a murder inquiry when he told police he remembered being three years old and seeing Dearlove swinging the toddler by his ankles against the fireplace.

Neurosurgeon Peter Richards, who specialised in childhood brain injuries from 1995 until he retired this year, told Teesside Crown Court today the fatal fall from bed was 'an unlikely scenario'.

Paul Booth in September 1968. Pic: Cleveland Police/PA Wire
.

Paul Booth in September 1968. Pic: Cleveland Police/PA Wire . - Credit: PA

MORE; Head injuries are investigatedRichard Wright QC, prosecuting, asked: 'The alternative scenario, that of a striking of the head onto the fireplace, is that plausible?'


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Mr Richards replied: 'That is a plausible one, yes.'

Mr Wright asked: 'Is that consistent with the injuries that were found?'

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The neurosurgeon replied: 'I would consider it consistent.'

Mr Richards studied photographs, the post mortem examination, witness statements and interviews.

He based his findings on his experience of his clinical practice, and medico-legal cases where he had been asked to give his opinion.

Few children who fall from bed required hospital treatment, he said. 'When they do go, it is very rare that they have any significant injury,' he said. 'It is very rare that they will die.

'I would not use the term impossible, there will have been some unfortunate children in the world where this has happened - the statistics indicate this is incredibly rare.'

MORE; 50 years of anguish for brotherMr Richards said he had known of a child die from falling from the top level of a bunk bed.

He had also experienced in his career seeing a child who required intensive care treatment after being swung against furniture.

Dearlove denies murder, manslaughter and child cruelty offences and the trial continues.

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