April 2023

Pictures show filthy home where Finley Boden was murdered by his parents


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 on Friday following a five-week trial at Derby Crown Court, 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 previously described how Finley had suffered a catalogue of “appalling” injuries, many inflicted in the short period before his fatal collapse.

Finley suffered 57 fractures to his bones – including 45 rib fractures – several burns and 71 bruises in the weeks prior to his death, on Christmas Day 2020.

The injuries inflicted included a broken shoulder, broken arm, broken shinbone, a thigh bone broken in four places, and a pelvis broken in two places.

He had also developed pneumonia, endocarditis – inflammation of the lining of the heart – and sepsis.

Opening the trial, Ms Prior said it concerned “the savage and brutal murder of a baby boy”.

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”.

The child suffered a cardiac arrest at the family’s terraced home in Holland Road in Old Whittington, Derbyshire. Paramedics were called to the Chesterfield suburb at 2.33am on Christmas Day and Finley was taken to hospital, but despite medics’ best efforts he was pronounced dead at 3.45am.

Only hours after his son’s death, Boden was heard telling Marsden at the hospital that he was going to sell Finley’s pushchair on eBay – later telling police he had only said this in an effort to lighten the mood.

Later Marsden, while visiting Finley’s body in a hospital chapel of rest on 11 January 2021, would say: “His dad’s battered him to death. I didn’t protect him.”

Boden had claimed the family dog may have “jumped on” his son, inflicting broken ribs, while a tear to the inside of Finley’s mouth, likely caused by a dummy being rammed in, was blamed on the child hitting himself with a rattle.

He also sent a text message two days before the child’s death that said: “I want to bounce him [Finley] off the walls.”

Jurors heard that Finley had been returned gradually to the couple’s care over a period of eight weeks after a court order was issued in October 2020, despite social workers asking for a longer transition.

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

On December 6, the phone was used to search the term ‘does anyone know if there’s a women’s refuge’ in Chesterfield.

Six days later shortly before 5am, text messages which the Crown has said were written by Marsden were sent to one of her relatives.

The messages, read by prosecution barrister Sally Hobson, said: ‘I apologise for waking you but I didn’t know what else to do, it was either you or the police and Stephen didn’t want Finley in the house.

‘I ain’t doing it anymore. I wanted a nice happy family Christmas, but that’s not going to happen here.’

The phone was shortly thereafter used to search for ’emergency housing, mum and kids, Chesterfield’, the court heard.

Further messages read: ‘He couldn’t give two s***s if I were still here or not, I don’t think he wants this family anymore.’

On December 12, 2020, Marsden is said to have sent the following text to another relative: ‘Me and Stephen have done nothing but argue all night, he’s not bothered about us at all.’

It went on: ‘He told me to get out the house this morning at 4.30am, because Finley was crying and I’m not going to risk neighbours getting involved and risk losing Finley.

On December 14, a message, this time said be from Marsden, was sent to a relative which read: ‘I’m deleting this after I’ve sent it but please have the baby before Friday, make an excuse or something, please. I need him at yours, so I can do what I need to.’

However, the next morning – nine days before Finley’s death – a text to the same number read: ‘I’m deleting this after I’ve sent it so don’t answer, but you’re not having him tomorrow. I think no one is seeing Finley right now.’

In the next 24 hours, another three internet news searches were done on the phone, bringing up articles including one about a ‘Derby mum who killed her baby’ and another about a child who was killed ‘because he cried too much’.

On December 21, days before Finley’s fatal collapse, Marsden is said to have messaged another relative saying: ‘Get the police to mine, tell them I’m scared of Stephen around the baby.

‘He’s just hit me again… tell them he’ll kill me. He just tried. Please, I will be dead. Not joking.’

A report by the family’s social worker had recommended a six-month transition – three times longer than the eight-week period that was ordered at a court hearing concerning the child’s care.

Boden, of Romford Way in Barrow Hill, 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.

Marsden told police that Boden had inflicted the injuries on Finley, the court heard.

Boden admitted telling police in an interview that he may have “rocked” Finley “too hard”, which could have accidentally caused the injuries, but said this was never an attempt to hurt him.

“When I used to rock Finley, he used to like it quite fast and strong when we did it, but it got to the point where I had to give some kind of explanation as to how it could have happened,” he said. “I felt under pressure to give some type of explanation [to the police].”

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

The trial judge, Mrs Justice Tipples, choked back tears as she thanked the jury for its “extremely impressive” conduct throughout the proceedings, and excused members from being required to undertake jury service in future.

“I would like to thank you for your dedication, commitment and patience in carrying out this extremely important public service,” she said.

“Given the length of this case and the awful nature of the facts you have had to consider, I discharge you from jury service for life.”

As she spoke, at least four members of the jury were in tears, while the defendants sat silent, unmoving, arms folded and looking on, in the nearby dock.

Images released by police today show the grim conditions Finley endured in his short life with his parents.

Clutter is seen throughout the home, with unwashed pots and pans piled up in the kitchen, toys and bags carelessly thrown into the bathtub and a bedside table littered with dirty cigarette butts and empty cans of energy drink

A feeding bottle appears to have mould growing on the inside and a number of stains are visible on bedsheets.

Medics discovered Boden trying to resuscitate Finley on the kitchen floor but noticed that the youngster’s clothing was dirty, had dirty hands and fingernails, and he had new and raw scrapes and abrasions on his nose and linings of his nostrils.