Agatha Christie based the story of The Mousetrap (Report, 26 November) – we won’t reveal the play’s ending! – on a tragedy in our family: our uncle, Dennis O’Neill, was killed by his foster father Reginald Gough – Dennis had died of “acute cardiac failure, following violence applied to the front of the chest and back while in a state of under-nourishment due to neglect”. Our father Tom O’Neill related the family’s story in his book A Place called Hope; Caring for Children in Distress , and in 2010 our uncle Terry, who was with Dennis when he died, published his first-hand account, Someone to Love Us . The events led to significant changes in childcare at that time (Monkton report 1945), although we still despair of the horrors of child abuse today. We can only hope understanding of the source of the play will lead audiences to think about how they can help reduce child abuse in our society.
Bernard O’Neill Cinderford, Gloucestershire, Philip O’Neill Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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