Horror: Parents Sentenced For Murdering Baby With 130 Injuries In Horrible Abode

Two callous parents who murdered their baby boy just weeks after he was returned to them have been sentenced to life in prison.

Shannon Marsden and Stephen Boden were sentenced to 27 and 29 years respectively at Derby Crown Court for the “savage and prolonged” murder of their son, Finley Boden.

The pair inflicted 130 separate injuries on the 10-month-old before his fatal collapse in 2020, including 71 bruises, 57 bone breaks and fractures, and burns.

Finley had fractures to his collarbones and thighs, while his pelvis had been broken in two places, possibly from sustained “kicking or stamping”, with injuries likened to a multi-storey fall.

He also had two burns on his left hand – one “from a hot, flat surface”, the other probably “from a cigarette lighter flame”.

In a statement from a relative of one of the defendants, read by Mary Prior KC, they said that Finley had suffered “the most horrific abuse” and labelled his parents as “monsters”.

Handing the pair life sentences at Derby Crown Court on Friday, Mrs Justice Amanda Tipples said the pair were “persuasive and accomplished liars” who inflicted “unimaginable cruelty” on their son.

She said: “You both knew that Finley was very seriously ill and dying… yet you deliberately failed to seek any medical help for him and you made sure that he was not seen by anyone that could have rescued him and taken him away from your care.

“He was subject to repeated abuse on multiple occasions. Once the injuries had been inflicted, Finley’s daily experience was one of considerable pain, distress and suffering.

“It was obvious to both of you by December 16 that Finley was very seriously injured, and he was utterly miserable.

“He was no longer able to sit up and play with his toys. He was unable to feed himself.”

She added: “By the evening of December 23 he was plainly dying. There was nothing subtle about this at all. It was plainly obvious to both of you.

Immediately before she passed the sentence, the judge said: “Neither of you have shown any remorse at all for what you have done.”

The pair showed no emotion and remained silent during sentencing, while family members wept in the public gallery as Mrs Justice Tipples detailed the horrific abuse they inflicted on Finley.

He had been in the care of Boden and Marsden for just over a month after a Family Court deemed they did not pose an unmanageable risk to their son in the weeks before his murder

In a statement, a relative said: “I thought they had both changed. I was obviously wrong and they only showed us what they wanted us to see.

“They acted together to inflict all his injuries and then hide him away and allow him to die in such an awful way.”

They added: “Neither of you have shown any remorse. We as a family have grieved, but you haven’t needed to, as you are both responsible for his death.

“We will never forget, or forgive, you both, and we will never forget Finley. While we will never forget Finley, I promise, we will forget you both.

“I can only describe you both as monsters for what you have done.”

Mrs Prior had submitted that the defendants should be given a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years in prison.

She said: “The defendants plotted together to ensure that social care were not advised of any serious illness, came up with a plot to suggest that Finley had Covid … and agreed a history to explain how Finley was, and their movements on the day of his death.”

Finley was left “unable to eat” after sustaining “vicious assaults committed against a background of violence”, she added.

“The living conditions were unsafe and unhygenic, there was cannabis in Finley’s bloodstream. No medical assistance was sought for his chest condition which developed into sepsis.”

After Boden and Marsden were convicted, Paul Bullock, a Detective Inspector at Derbyshire Police, said the injuries were “amongst the worst I’ve seen in my 27-year policing career”.

Following his death, Boden was heard mentioning how he would sell Finley’s pram on eBayand the pair were later seen laughing together in a taxi.

During the trial, the 30-year-old suggested that Finley’s injuries could have been caused by rocking him too hard, and said that the pram comment was made in an attempt to “lighten the mood”.

It was also said that when visiting Finley’s body in a hospital chapel of rest, 22-year-old Marsden was heard to say: “His dad’s battered him to death. I didn’t protect him.”

The jury saw images of the couple’s cluttered home, including pictures taken by police showing cannabis paraphernalia next to gone off baby milk, and heard how the pair hid their abuse from social workers and family members.

Finley’s clothes and bedding were found to be stained with saliva, blood and faeces.

The jury was also shown CCTV of the last time that Finley was seen alive, being pushed along by Boden in a pram as he entered a Tesco Express store on Christmas Eve.

Finley was taken into care immediately after his birth on February 15, 2020.

Social services had become involved during Marsden’s pregnancy after concerns over cannabis use, domestic violence and the state of the family home.

One Derbyshire County Council document, released after an application to the High Court, shows that concerns were raised over the state of the property on February 17, 2020 – two days after Finley was born.

A social worker said that she found a broken glass mirror in the bathroom sink, expressing worry over the couple’s “lack of engagement and reluctance to work with professionals” and a frequent and strong smell of cannabis in the house.

It concluded that Finley was at “significant risk of harm” if he stayed with his parents, with social services dismissing the option of Finley returning to his parents’ full-time care as late as June of that year.

But by September, social workers, while acknowledging that a gradual transition to full-time care would be needed, said that Boden and Marsden “have shown their ability to begin to make changes”.

The couple attended all 16 contact sessions they had with Finley at the height of the pandemic and cuddled and kissed him as social workers said they had “no concerns” over the couple’s ability to love their son.

But at the same time, the local authority recommended that Finley “should be returned to the parents in a planned and gradual way”, raising concerns over continued, albeit decreased, drug use, and the impact of caring for a child full time.

After he was returned to their care, Finley’s parents “came up with a plan” to suggest he had Covid to stop social services from entering their property, Ms Prior said.

A motivation for Finley’s murder has never been established and came after months of Boden and Marsden working to show that they were capable of caring for their son.

Use of the class B drug was a key theme in the days immediately before Finley’s death, with one drug deal witnessed by a social worker during an unannounced visit in December 2020.

Boden has 22 previous convictions for 33 offences, said the prosecutor, but not for violence. He has a number of convictions for cannabis including production and possession of the class B drug.

Marsden has no previous convictions.

Mrs Prior submitted that the defendants should be given a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years in prison.

She said: “The defendants plotted together to ensure that social care were not advised of any serious illness, came up with a plot to suggest that Finley had Covid … and agreed a history to explain how Finley was, and their movements on the day of his death.”

Defending Marsden, Andrew Vout KC said she was the “secondary party” to the murder of her son and referenced texts sent by Marsden to family members expressing concern over Finley’s welfare and Boden’s domestic abuse, as well as searches for emergency accommodation made before Finley died.

He said: “It is plain in my submission that Miss Marsden’s feelings for Mr Boden ultimately overrode all else and I must accept that these were choices that she herself made, that the evidence in my submission clearly demonstrates that she was covering for Mr Boden because she was in his thrall.

“She was ill-equipped to deal with motherhood with an abusive partner.

“She was young, immature and had mental health difficulties of her own, and she was utterly incapable and unwilling, I accept, to recognise the help and assistance that was being offered by social services.”

He added: “That she was a victim herself of Mr Boden’s abuse in my submission is well made out on the evidence that we heard.

“It did not provide her with a defence, I don’t submit that it does, but it is inescapable that that was her situation at the material time.”

The results of a review of Finley’s case will be released later this year.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council previously said: “The courts have released a selection of documents regarding decisions made by the Family Court in Finley’s case.

“The author of the independent Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review commissioned by the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership will consider the information contained within these documents to help form the partnership’s learning findings and recommendations.

“Our deepest sympathy goes to everyone who knew and loved Finley and we remain fully engaged with the statutory legal review process which looks in depth at the role of all agencies following the death of a child.

“Strengthening practice is a constant focus for children’s services and when the review is concluded we will be in a position to communicate more fully about this case.”

Following the sentencing, an NSPCC spokesperson urged the Government to “transform the child protection system”.

They said: “The cruelty and abuse inflicted on Finley leading up to his tragic death was appalling and heart-breaking.

“The death of a child in such brutal circumstances leaves many of us asking questions and we await the Child Safeguarding Practice Review to establish exactly what happened and any ways in which Finley could have been better protected, in order to help prevent future tragedies.

“We know that babies and our youngest children are particularly vulnerable to abuse and completely reliant on the adults around them for care and protection.

“Nationally the Government must takes forward the changes recommended by previous reviews and experts to transform the child protection system and ensure the different agencies involved are able to work together effectively to focus on children and babies like Finley.

“It’s also crucial that everyone does all they can to prevent child abuse. Anyone who has concerns for a child’s safety should contact the local authorities, the police or the NSPCC Helpline.”

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