Facebook Photo May Solve Case Of Toddler's Mysterious Death Decades Later

After a Facebook photo reminded Peter Booth of his brother's horrible death, he went searching for justice.

The death of toddler Paul Booth (which occurred in 1968 in northeast England) was considered closed until 2015, when Booth's brother Peter saw an image of his deceased sibling and his mother's former boyfriend, David Dearlove, appear on Facebook. The image stirred up a handful of memories in Peter, who is now looking for justice for his brother. 

According to The Washington Post, Peter Booth asked police to reopen the investigation into the death of his brother, as he wanted to provide crucial testimony against his mother's boyfriend who he claims killed the child. Struck by his rage at seeing the image on social media, Booth's memories of events that occurred decades ago are now at the center of the case. 

“Dearlove’s son David posted an image of his dad with Paul and I got angry,” said Booth in court this week.

In 1968, Paul was found unconscious on a piece of furniture in the home shared by his mother Carol Booth, her children and Dearlove. Paul was taken to a hospital where he died shortly thereafter.

“The post-mortem found a large number of bruises of varying ages,” said prosecutor Richard Wright, but evidence had not been substantial enough to bring charges against Dearlove at the time. “They suggest he had been deliberately assaulted and physically mistreated over a period of time.”

Dearlove, now 71 years old, maintains that the child died after falling off the bed. Carol has since passed away.

“There was and is no doubt as to what medical condition caused the death of Paul Booth,” Wright added. “He died because of a severe injury to his brain that had itself been caused by a fractured skull. The real issue then in 1968 as now nearly 50 years later in 2017 is what caused that injury?”

Booth has provided testimony against Dearlove, who he now claims was extensively abusive throughout his childhood, in the case.

“I went to the door that leads into the front room. It was ajar and I stuck my head through and saw David Dearlove and my brother Paul in there,” he recalled. “I could see David Dearlove’s back with his arms outstretched swinging Paul round. He swung round and caught Paul’s head on the fireplace. He was holding him by the ankles. Paul was face up looking at the ceiling. There was a yelp, a scream and then my mam came through from the kitchen and I heard her shout, ‘What is going on?’ David Dearlove had hold of Paul on the floor with his hands by his side. I ran back up the stairs. I was really scared, I got back into bed and just laid there until I went back to sleep. I could remember the sound it made, it was a horrible thud.”

Booth claims he remained quiet out of fear of Dearlove's violence.

Experts including a neurosurgeon and neuropathologist have re-examined the evidence from the case and determined that the death was likely the result of a high-impact assault and not an accident. They are expected to testify against Dearlove.

Dearlove's attorney has suggested that Booth's memory is faulty.

“No,” Booth said. “I remember what I’ve seen. All those things I’ve said in court today have been what I remember.”

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, continues.

[Photo: Cleveland Police]

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