Arthur Stanley Bernard Osbourne was born in 1926. His initials spelled an unfortunate acronym for this century but was blissfully innocent in the 1920's.
From the moment he could crawl, he revealed a mischievous nature and by the time he could walk, he was downright naughty.
"What's Arthur done now?" was the most common phrase in the Osbourne home. Every breakage, loud noise, spillage or mishap was attributed to the hapless four year old.
Alice, Sarah and Beatrice, who's combined initials spelled the same acronym, were twelve, ten and eight respectively. They were enchanted by their little brother. They giggled at his antics and would try and cover up his trail of destruction. Their parents were unaware of at least half the activities the four siblings would get up to trying to hide evidence. When her offspring were caught out, the reprimands and punishments from Mrs Osbourne were so ineffective that within half an hour there would be another incident.
However, there was one member of the household who didn't find Arthur so endearing. It was Thomas, Dr.Charles Osbourne's twenty year old son from his first marriage. Thomas' mother had died when he was five. Now, fifteen years later, his distaste for his Father's young family had turned into hatred, particularly towards Arthur.
Thomas had also despised his tyrannical mother and was very happy when she'd been found dead at the foot of the stairs. Partial to taking several tipples of sherry throughout the day, her death was attributed to being tipsy and losing her balance at the top of the stairs.
For two years after her sudden demise, it was just him and his father. He had revelled in the attention he received. He was sent away to school when he was seven but that was fine by him. It happened to most boys of his age and social standing.
Within a year and during the summer holidays, he discovered his father had married again.
Lilian, a young widow, who Thomas considered cheap and common looking, had become his step-mother. He couldn't wait to return to school to escape her high pitched voice and excitable demeanour. What on earth could his staid and sensible father find appealing in the silly feather-headed little woman.
When Thomas turned twenty-one he assumed his comfortable lifestyle would continue being paid for. He was horrified when his father informed him that with four growing children, he needed to buy a bigger house and could no longer afford to finance him.
Resentment towards his ghastly half-witted, half family, grew stronger over the following months and he planned to dispose of them, one by one. He was so angry at his father for casting him aside that he decided to start with him. He would use the same method he had used to kill his mother. That had been easy, he had simply pushed the inebriated witch down the stairs but this time he had to be more devious.
When Dr Osbourne was found dead at the bottom of the stairs a week later, Thomas blamed little Arthur. The clumsy boy, he said, had spilled his bedtime cocoa at the top of the stairs which had resulted in their father sliding and falling to his death.
Thomas' rightful inheritance was assured. He still had the other inhabitants of the house to deal with but that would be easy. They were all so stupid.
Earlier on that fateful night, Alice had secretly watched her horrid half-brother pour some cocoa on to the landing. She retrieved Arthur's beaker that Thomas had placed on the puddle to set the scene, then proceeded to put her plan in to action.
Lilian sat in the gallery of the courtroom with her four children, while her step-son was sentenced. The judge ordered that he be hanged for patricide. The evidence against him was overwhelming; contaminated dregs in a mixing jug was found in his wardrobe. Arthur's beaker was hidden in one of his drawers and stale cocoa was discovered on his slippers. Thomas' face revealed utter bewilderment and when he looked at Lilian, he saw no glimpse of emotion.
‘How stupid and half-witted did he think his half family were now,’ she wondered, chuckling to herself.
After witnessing Thomas' dastardly deed on that fateful evening, Alice had set tasks for her sisters. Sarah was to fetch the morphine from their father's unsecured medical bag. Beatrice had to pour away some of their father's brandy, leaving enough for a generous glassful. Finally, she, being the eldest, would mix the two substances together and replace the decanter on the sideboard. She would also be responsible for concealing certain items in Thomas' bedroom that would seal the scheming plan.