Anorak News | David Dearlove: the Facebook photo that jailed a child killer

David Dearlove: the Facebook photo that jailed a child killer

by | 1st, December 2017

dearlove booth crime scene


David Dearlove is starting a life sentence for the murder of Paul Booth. David Dearlove is 71. He will serve at least 13 years behind bars. Paul Booth is 19 months old. He will always be 19 months old because on October 1 1968 David Dearlove swung him by the ankles and smashed his step-son’s head into a fireplace.

We only know what happened because Paul’s brother Peter saw it all when he went downstairs to fetch a drink. Peter was three-years-old when he peered through the crack in the door and saw the horror. Having seen his brother murdered by their stepfather – Dearlove had moved into their home in Stockton, Teesside, one month earlier – Peter ran back upstairs.

How did the authorities think the toddler died? The inquest into Paul Booth’s death delivered an open verdict.


dearlove booth crime scene


In 2015, Peter did tell the police what he’d seen. His sense of injustice and anger was triggered by a photograph posted by a family member on Facebook. The photo (above) shows his younger brother sat on Dearlove’s knee. “Dearlove’s son David posted an image of his dad with Paul and I got angry,” Mr Booth told jurors at Tyneside Crown court. “I did not want it on there because of what he had done to Paul and what he had done to me.”



The killer denied it all. He said Peter was a liar. He said Paul Booth was instrumental in his own death, claiming he’d fallen out of bed on to a concrete floor.

The court heard Dearlove had a history of violence towards Peter, Paul and their sister Stephanie Marron.

“What happened behind closed doors stayed behind closed doors,” Peter told jurors. “You didn’t tittle-tattle. You don’t tell tales. So everything that happened I just kept it to myself. You just got on with it. You’d cry yourself to sleep.” Peter told how Dearlove tortured him. He held him under water in the bath. He stood him outside in the cold and ran his hands under ice-cold water. He beat him.

Stephanie told the court that Dearlove punched her “full force” in the stomach. He’d lay on top of her until she could not breathe. “I can still feel his weight,” she said.

And then we know this: the Crown Prosecution Service told the court it had not been able to exhume Paul’s body as burial records had been lost. On October 7 1968 Paul Booth was buried at the Haverton Hill baptist church, since closed and demolished. The case would reply on the documents prepared for his inquest at the time. Paul’s mother Carol Boot died in 1991.

Would the records be enough?


dearlove booth crime scene


Thankfully, the coroner’s report contained photographs (above). They showed injuries to Paul’s feet and ankles, older bruising to his body, that his front teeth had been knocked out and, most damning, a Z-shape injury that crossed two plates in his skull. Had he hit the floor, as Dearlove claimed, the wound would have been in a straight line.

Indeed. Why didn’t that occur to anyone at the original inquest? Why did a postmortem cause the police spokesman to “rule out foul play”?

Paul Booth was remarkably accident prone on Dearlove’s watch. He fell down the stairs. And:

Pictures from inside the Rodney Street home [above] show the hot water pipes Dearlove claimed little Paul had burned his hand on. They also show a moped he claimed had fallen on Paul, which left him with visible bruising.

And then there was that fatal wound to his head.


dearlove booth crime scene

The killer


Outside court, Paul’s family make a statement:

“Thinking about this makes us sad, as Paul would have been a man, no doubt married and more than likely with children of his own.

“However, sadly Paul was not given the opportunity to live his life due to the cruel and wicked actions of David Dearlove.

“This was a man who entered Paul’s life and was supposedly to act as a father figure to Paul. A man, who was supposed to care for him and look after him. Instead of doing this he ended Paul’s life in the most violent way.

“The actions of David Dearlove on 1st October 1968 not only physically killed Paul but also destroyed his memory. He was buried into an unmarked grave the location of which remains unknown and he was not spoken about for many years.

“However, we now believe as a family that this court case has shown everyone that Paul did live a life and that his memory will never be forgotten. Naturally we are delighted as a family that justice has now been done, even if it did take 47 years to achieve it.

“David Dearlove is now behind bars.

“This has been a long journey to get to this point and we would like to thank Cleveland Police and those that assisted in bringing the case to court. We now hope to move on with our lives, and with justice having been served, hope that Paul can now rest in peace.”

Paul Booth RIP.

Posted: 1st, December 2017 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink