Parents who murdered baby son on Christmas Day after winning him back from social services jailed for life

26 May 2023, 14:57 | Updated: 26 May 2023, 19:45

Finley suffered more than 100 injuries at the hands of his parents
Finley suffered more than 100 injuries at the hands of his parents. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The parents of 10-month-old Finley Boden have been jailed for life for his murder on Christmas Day in 2020.

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Remorseless "monsters" Stephen Boden was given a minimum of 29 years while Shannon Marsden has been given a minimum of 27 years at Derby Crown Court.

Their child suffered 130 injuries including 57 bone breaks and two burns at home in Old Whittington, Derbyshire.

Finley had been taken away from them by social services after fears grew about his safety.

But he was put back in the care of the pair 39 days before his death.

Prosecutors told the court that Finley suffered "vicious and repeated assaults" over three weeks in a "savage and prolonged" murder, then plotted to tell social services he had Covid to cancel a visit.

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Finley had become "really, really ill" Justice Amanda Tipples said, with his chest "tattling and wheezing" as pneumonia set in his lungs.

His injuries inflicted during the abuse were so bad he was left unable to eat, while his made him live in "unsafe and unhygienic" conditions.

Finley was killed on Christmas Day aged ten months
Finley was killed on Christmas Day aged ten months. Picture: Handout

She told the pair they knew Finley was dying but they deliberately delayed getting help which could have saved his life and lied to doctors about the cause of his injuries which would have required "considerable force".

The judge said the injuries would have been inflicted on "at least two separate occasions, by way of sustained, brutal assaults".

"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," she added.

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The judge said Boden and Marsden, who had smoked cannabis from the age of nine and 10 respectively, regularly argued, with Boden having a short temper and hitting Marsden.

"You both knew that as soon as anyone knew Finley was injured, he would be taken away from you and your family life," she said, jailing the pair.

"Having brutally assaulted Finley on at least two occasions, you continued to abuse him.

Boden has been jailed for life
Boden has been jailed for life. Picture: Derbyshire Constabulary

"You subjected your own baby son to unimaginable cruelty."

Relatives had described Finley as a "happy, chuckling baby" who was "callously abused", and said his murder will "always haunt us".

In a victim impact statement from one of their family members, the defendants were told their relations thought they had "changed" but they were proved wrong.

"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," the statement said.

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"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."

Prosecutors told the court that Boden, who was 28 at the time of the killing, had 22 previous convictions for 33 offences.

Marsden has been jailed for life over her baby's abuse
Marsden has been jailed for life over her baby's abuse. Picture: Derbyshire Constabulary

Marsden, then aged 20, had a clean record.

Boden's defence lawyer said there was "not a sadistic motivation" for murdering Finley, and the parents had a "strong emotional affection" for him.

Simon Kealey KC told the court they had not intended to get the baby back to kill him, but rather to "reunite" the family.

Marsden's lawyer Andrew Vout KC read texts to the court showing her concern for Finley's welfare and search history for emergency housing in Chesterfield.

He said her feelings for Boden "overrode" everything else and she was "ill-equipped" to be a mother and have 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 said, calling Marsden a victim of Boden.

The pair were convicted in April after a four-month long trial.