Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Boy's Body in Kit Bag

Shortly after the outbreak of World War 2 a seven year old boy was murdered in Liverpool, with the killer putting the body in a kit bag and dumping it under his bed.

Around midday on Saturday 16th September 1939  seven year old John Terence Court went out to play in Everton Road with his younger brother. The pair soon got separated after John was last seen talking to an eighteen year old mess-room steward named Robert Dillon, who was known to them both.

Everton Road (
When John's mother and father were told of this  they went to  Dillon's home in Godfrey Street (situated where Everton Children's Centre now is) and were told by him that he had brought their son there and sent him away with some cigarette cards. Mr Court then reported John as missing, while Dillon went to the cinema. 

At around 9pm that evening Dillon's mother was in his bedroom and noticed a large seaman's kitbag under his bed and asked what was in it. He immediately confessed to his crime, saying 'I'm sorry mum I went mad.' She informed the police and Detective Sergeant Hooley attended, finding several cuts on the neck of John's body. When he asked Dillon why he had done it he replied 'I don't know what made me do it, I lost my temper, I did not mean to do it.' 

Dillon was taken into custody and when he appeared at the police court on 2nd October to be committed for trial a statement was read out from him. This stated that Dillon put his hand over John's mouth as he was looking at some cards. When the boy starred to wriggle, he punched him, then stabbed him in the neck and chest. Dillon had then stripped the body and put it in a bag, before washing the knife in the bathroom.     

On 1st November Dillon appeared at the assizes, where two doctors gave evidence that appeared to indicate he did not know what he was doing. One described the attack, which resulted in twenty stab wounds, as frenzied and the other said it was during a fit and he was unaware of his actions. However, in summing up Mr Justice Stable said that if Dillon was not in control of his mind at the time, then he should not have been in a position to provide such a detailed statement in relation to the circumstances of the killing. After an hour's deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Dillon, who was described as 'dull and backwards' in syndicated press reports, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to death. However, on 27th November the verdict was quashed at the Court of Criminal Appeal and the verdict substituted with one of 'guilty but insane' leading to Dillon being detained at His Majesty's Pleasure.   

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