Social workers visited baby boy's house two days before he was murdered by parents - but were told 'he is not very well'

15 April 2023, 00:01 | Updated: 15 April 2023, 00:41

Baby Finley was burnt and beaten in the days before his murder on Christmas Day, 2020
Baby Finley was burnt and beaten in the days before his murder on Christmas Day, 2020. Picture: Derbyshire Police
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Social workers visited the house of a baby boy two days before he was beaten to death by his parents but were turned away by his father who said his son was "not very well".

Finley Boden was taken from his parents in February 2020, but was then returned to Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden in November that year.

The 10-month-old child was last seen by social services on November 27, despite multiple attempts to visit. They arrived at his address on December 23, two days before the boy's murder, but were refused entry.

It is believed Boden, 30, told social workers Finley was ill, while his mum Shannon bought drugs nearby.

Boden, 30, and Marsden, 22, were both convicted of murder after a five-week trial at Derby Crown Court on Friday, after the death of their baby on Christmas Day, 2020.

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Baby Finley was 10 months old when he died
Baby Finley was 10 months old when he died. Picture: Handout
Baby Finley's final moments before his murder
Baby Finley's final moments before his murder. Picture: CCTV

Finley suffered almost 130 "appalling" injuries, including 71 bruises over his body and 57 fractures, many inflicted in the short period before his fatal collapse.

Just hours after his son's death, Boden was heard telling Marsden at hospital that he was going to sell Finley's pushchair on eBay.

He later told police he had only said this to "lighten the mood".

Boden had sent a text message two days before his son's death death saying: "I want to bounce him (Finley) off the walls."

Finley's pelvis had been broken in two places, possibly from sustained "kicking or stamping", and he had two burns on his left hand - one "from a hot, flat surface", the other probably "from a cigarette lighter flame".

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He fatally collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest at the family's "cluttered" and filthy terraced home in Holland Road, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, Derbyshire - with faeces later found in the bedroom.

Paramedics were called there at 2.33am on Christmas Day and Finley was taken to hospital, but despite medics' best efforts he was pronounced dead at 3.45am.

Shannon Marsden
Shannon Marsden. Picture: Derbyshire police
Stephen Boden
Stephen Boden. Picture: Derbyshire Police

At the time, Boden claimed that their family dog may have jumped on his son, causing his broken ribs, while a tear inside his son's mouth was likely caused by a dummy being forced in.

Jurors heard Finley was returned to the couple's care over eight weeks by a court order, despite social workers asking for a longer transition.

Child protection concerns meant Finley was removed from his parents' care shortly after being born in February 2020.

Boden, from Chesterfield, and Marsden, of no fixed address, denied murder, two counts of child cruelty, and two charges of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The pair, who did not react as the verdicts were read, will be sentenced at a later date.

Read More: Cannabis-smoking parents guilty of Christmas Day murder of their baby - days after he was placed back in their care

Andrew Baxter, CPS deputy chief crown prosecutor, said: "The violence these two individuals inflicted and their wilful neglect in covering up his injuries is incomprehensible, as his parents they should have been the ones who protected him from harm, not be the cause of it.

"These defendants sought to have their child returned to their care and then treated him in this appalling manner.

"It was clear that Finley's injuries were obvious and that he needed help, yet his own parents chose to ignore his needs to protect themselves."

Adding that the case had been "distressing and complex", he offered his sympathies to Finley's loved ones.

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