A stepfather who was convicted of murdering a toddler almost 50 years after a Facebook photograph sparked a new inquiry has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 13 years.
David Dearlove, 71, swung 19-month-old Paul Booth by the ankles and bashed his head against a fireplace in 1968, then lied about what he had done for decades, claiming the little boy fell out of bed.
His murderous attack had been witnessed by Paul’s brother, Peter, who was three-years-old at the time, after he crept downstairs at the family home in Stockton, Teesside, to get a drink.
Mr Booth had told police what happened after piecing together childhood memories, but no action was taken.
That changed in 2015 when, incensed by seeing a black-and-white photo of Dearlove with Paul on his knee on Facebook, Mr Booth went to the police again with the allegation that his brother was murdered.
Dearlove, now a retired grandfather, was found guilty at Teeside Crown Court of murder and child cruelty offences against Paul, Peter and their sister, Stephanie.
Teesside Crown Court heard that Dearlove was 21 when he moved in with Carol Booth, a single mother, and her three young children.
Initially, in 2015, Dearlove told police Paul had suddenly collapsed in a chair downstairs, but, at the time and during the trial, he claimed the toddler fell out of bed.
Experts told the jury a fatal fall out of bed was extremely unlikely and the extent of his injuries indicated Paul had been physically abused.
Outside court, the family said Paul would have been 50 this year, but instead he lay in an unmarked grave which they cannot find.
Mr Justice Males said “You were a young and no doubt immature man. You were also a cruel man and you made the lives of those three young children a misery.”