A cannabis-smoking mother and father have been convicted of the “savage and brutal” Christmas Day murder of their baby son, after burning and beating him “in repeated acts of severe violence” in the days before his death.
Stephen Boden, 30, and Shannon Marsden, 22, were convicted after a five-week trial at Derby Crown Court on Friday, after the death of Finley Boden in the winter 2020 Covid lockdown – 39 days after he was placed back into their care.
Prosecutor Mary Prior KC described how 10-month-old Finley had suffered a catalogue of “appalling” injuries, including 71 bruises over his body and 57 fractures, many inflicted in the short period before his fatal collapse.
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”.
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.
Later Marsden, while visiting Finley’s body in a hospital chapel of rest on January 11 2021, would say: “His dad’s battered him to death. I didn’t protect him.”
He also sent a text message two days before the child’s death saying: “I want to bounce him (Finley) off the walls.”
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.
A report by the family’s social worker had recommended a six-month transition – three times longer than the eight-week period which was ordered at a court hearing concerning the child’s care, in October 2020.
Child protection concerns meant Finley was removed from his parents’ care shortly after being born in February 2020.
Boden, of Romford Way in Barrow Hill, Chesterfield, and Marsden, of no fixed address, had 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.