Skip to main content

Timeline :: Dennis O'Neill dies

Silhouette for no photo

Dennis O'Neill, aged 13 years, was beaten to death by his foster father, Reginald Gough, at Bank Farm, Shropshire, on 9th January 1945. A post-mortem examination revealed he had been starved for months and weighed just four stone. There was a national outcry when Gough was jailed in February for 6 years for manslaughter;  an appeal court ruling changed the verdict to murder and his sentence was extended to 10 years. A Home Office inquiry chaired by Sir Walter Monckton began in March and reported on 28 May 1945. It identified a string of failures by the staff and agencies involved in the case, and the two local authorities responsible for the boy's foster placement had failed to communicate adequately with each other. The inquiry was seen as instrumental in leading to the Children Act of 1948.