The crime is awful: A man is accused of murdering his girlfriend's toddler son by smashing the boy's head against a fireplace in a fit of anger. But the circumstances surrounding the murder trial of David Dearlove in England are drawing even more attention. The alleged murder of 19-month-old Paul Booth took place in 1968, and the witness who has come forward to police was just 3 years old at the time, reports the Telegraph. That witness is the victim's brother, Peter Booth, who came forward after a relative posted a faded family photo on Facebook of Dearlove, now 71, and Paul Booth, taken just weeks before the boy's death. The photo angered Peter Booth, who confided in a cousin about what he had seen on the night of the boy's death nearly 50 years ago. She went to police, and the subsequent investigation has led to the trial now underway.
Peter Booth told the court that he snuck down from his room the night of Oct. 1, 1968, to get a drink and saw Dearlove deliberately swing Paul Booth by his ankles into the fireplace, head-first. He said he fled back to his room in fear, because Dearlove was regularly abusive, and kept what he saw a secret. Dearlove and the boys' now-deceased mother told police that the boy's fractured skull came after he fell out of bed, and no charges were filed, reports GazetteLive. Peter Booth had twice before gone to police as an adult to request an investigation, to no avail, but he never shared the details of the incident until now, per the Washington Post. Experts including a neurosurgeon have testified that it's unlikely that the blunt-force trauma suffered by the young victim came from a tumble out of bed.