Parents branded ‘monsters’ in horrific abuse that killed 10-month-old in England

LONDON — An English couple who fought to get their son back from child services and then abused him so badly that the 10-month-old girl died just over a month later were sentenced to life in prison on Friday for murder, which a judge described as a case of murder. of “unimaginable cruelty”.

Stephen Boden, 30, and Shannon Marsden, 22, showed no emotion as family members wept and gasps were heard in the gallery as the sentence was announced at Derby Crown Court.

Finley Boden, who the judge said was a kind, happy, smiling baby, died on Christmas Day 2020.

The final weeks of his life were hell based on his catalog of injuries: 57 broken bones, 71 bruises and burns on his hands, including one probably caused by a cigarette lighter.

“They acted together to sustain all of his injuries and then cover them up and allow him to die in such a horrible way,” a relative wrote in a statement read out by prosecutor Mary Prior. “I can only describe you both as monsters for what you did.”

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The boy was taken from the marijuana-addled couple shortly after he was born in February 2020 because social workers said he suffered “significant harm” in their ramshackle Chesterfield home, and Boden has a domestic violence conviction, according to court records.

As part of their application to the family court to return the boy, Boden described the baby as “perfect” and Marsden said he was “a cuddly, chunky bastard”.

The court decided that he could take him back part-time and eventually full-time. There was a disagreement between the local social work authority, who wanted a slower transition, and the guardian, who wanted the parents to get full custody sooner.

The couple wanted the boy returned immediately, with Boden in a statement assuring the court that they had “worked very hard to make changes”.

Boden’s lawyer, Simon Kealey, said there was no “sadistic motivation” for the killing.

“This is not a case where the parents asked to send Finley back to carry out his murder,” Kealey said. “The underlying motivation was to reunite his family.”

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But after he got home, the prosecutor said the boy was subjected to “vicious and repeated attacks” that eventually led to his “savage and prolonged” killing. His fractures led to infections, including pneumonia and sepsis, which proved fatal.

In contrast to photos of an orderly home shown to the court when the couple sought custody, jurors at the April trial were shown images of the home in disarray, marijuana paraphernalia and spoiled formula when Finley died. The boy’s clothes were covered in saliva and feces.

Despite seeing her suffering, her parents did nothing to help. The two social workers were even kept away believing they had COVID-19, even though they knew it wasn’t true.

Judge Amanda Tipples described them as “convincing and effective liars”.

“You both knew Finley was very seriously ill and dying,” Tipples said. “But you deliberately did not seek medical help and made sure no one saw him who could have saved him and taken him into your care.”

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