The parents of a 10-month-old baby who was murdered by the pair at their Chesterfield home have been jailed for a combined total of 56 years.
Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden were found guilty after a four-month-long trial in which a jury heard how their baby boy, Finley Boden, had suffered a shocking catalogue of injuries at their hands.
In the early hours of Christmas Day 2020, paramedics were called to a house in Holland Road, Old Whittington, to reports that ten-month-old Finley was unresponsive.
His parents told paramedics that he had been poorly – with a high temperature, cough and cold.
Following the 999 call at 2.27 am paramedics arrived within five minutes and Finley was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 3.45 am.
A post-mortem was conducted which found that Finley had died as a result of multiple fractures and infective complications as a result of his injuries.
When his body was examined, he was found to have 71 bruises, and two burns, that had been caused during multiple, separate assaults.
Further examination found he had suffered 57 fractures including 17 fractured ribs, a fractured collarbone, wrist, shoulder, left thigh bone, right shin bone and both thighs.
A specialist paediatrician who reviewed Finley’s injuries was of the opinion that none of the fractures could be explained by normal events – and that it was her belief that Finley was in “severe and protracted pain” prior to his death.
Boden and Marsden were arrested immediately.
In interview they both denied causing the injuries to Finley – as well as denying any knowledge about how the dozens of fractures had occurred during the 39 days that Finley had been in their care.
Both Boden and Marsden were evasive with medical and social care professionals following Finley being returned to their care.
Prior to him being returned to the care of Boden and Marsden, Finley had been seen regularly by professionals and was found to be developing well and was healthy – within five weeks he was dead.
Both Boden, 30, of Barrow Hill, and Marsden, 22, of no fixed abode, were charged with Finley’s murder.
They pleaded not guilty, and their evidence was heard by the jury during a lengthy trial at Derby Crown Court which ended last month with the jury finding them both responsible for his murder.
Today (26 May) at that same court the pair were jailed for life.
Boden must serve a minimum of 29 years in prison before being eligible for parole, while Marsden must stay behind bars for a minimum of 27 years.
Following the hearing, Detective Inspector Stephen Shaw, who led the investigation into Finley’s death, said: “Today we have seen a mother and father jailed for what is, quite simply, an incomprehensible crime.
“Over the course of a little more than a month Shannon Marsden and Stephen Boden assaulted their son Finley leaving him with 57 fractured bones across his tiny body.
“The heart-breaking reality is that Finley’s last days would have been spent in immense pain – a fact that would have been abundantly clear to both his parents.
“They knew that they were responsible for those injuries – but instead of doing the right thing and taking Finley to seek the urgent medical attention that he required – they took him shopping in Chesterfield town centre as though nothing were wrong.
“In fact, Finley was dying.
“Boden and Marsden, from the moment Finley returned to their care, to the point where they entered the court room, have never taken responsibility for their actions.
“They lied and obstructed professionals who were attempting to see Finley to establish that he was being cared for in the correct manner.
“They refused because they knew that once a professional saw the state of the house – and the condition that Finley was in – that he would be taken from their care.
“They conspired between them to ensure that no professional would see Finley and that their awful crimes would be kept secret.
“But we now know the truth – and they have paid the price with their liberty.
“I hope that for Finley’s wider family today brings a degree of closure – and that they can now focus on the happier times with Finley who was clearly a much loved, and very happy young boy, before those fateful days in December 2020.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and strength during what has been a long and incredibly difficult investigation and court process – and would ask that their privacy is respected following today’s sentencing.
“I also want to thank all those who worked on bringing Boden and Marsden to justice – in particular, those staff who worked so tirelessly on the investigation and the Crown Prosecution Service team and the Prosecution Counsel who built a case that allowed justice to be delivered for Finley.”
An NSPCC spokesperson 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.”