Finley Boden: 'Abusive' text from Chesterfield parents shown to baby murder jury

Internet searches were made on that phone for several articles relating to parent-involved child deaths, Derby Crown Court heard. Credit: PA Images

The mobile phone of parents accused of the "savage" Christmas murder of their baby son Finley Boden was used to send a message days before his death saying "I want to bounce him off the walls", a court has heard.

Stephen Boden, 29, and Shannon Marsden, 22, are accused of killing their 10-month-old son Finley during the winter 2020 Covid lockdown – 39 days after he was placed back into their care.

Prosecutors said the pair jointly carried out the Christmas Day murder, after burning and beating him "in repeated acts of severe violence", and – to this day – remained "in it together".

A Derby Crown Court jury has already heard Finley suffered a catalogue of "appalling" injuries, including two burns, one likely "from a cigarette lighter flame", 57 fractures and 71 bruises, some up to two weeks old.

'Internet searches were made for articles relating to parent-involved child deaths'

On Thursday, the trial heard text messages sent from the couple’s shared mobile phone – with jurors told the author of each SMS was not always clear – read by prosecution barrister Sally Hobson.

In one message from that handset to a contact saved as "Smokey J" at 12:39pm on 23 December 2020, the author said: "Little one f****** kept me up all night.

"I want to bounce him off the walls. Haha."

Before the youngster was returned to the couple’s care by a court order, internet searches were made on that phone for several news articles relating to parent-involved child deaths.

On 15 October 2020, a record was found of a BBC story about a "father jailed for killing two-month-old son".

Another on the same day brought up an article about a mother "charged with killing 20-month-old daughter through neglect".

On 19 November 2020, the date Finley was returned to the couple’s care, similar internet searches were carried out – and then again on 7 December.

On 6 December, the phone was used to search the term "does anyone know it 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.

'I don't think he wants this family anymore' - a text message read

The messages, read by Ms 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**** if I were still here or not, I don’t think he wants this family anymore."

On 12 December 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.

“I need to get out… I’ve stuck around so many times, thinking things will get better.

“It never does. It never will.”

She later said: "Stephen will never see these kids again, after I’m done."

The jury then heard how the same phone was used to send a message, which the Crown has suggested was Boden, which read: "F****** been up all night, little one has been ill as f***."

The next day, he is said to have sent another message to a suspected drug dealer, which read: "Just kid and missus doing my nut, and need a smoke bad. Haha."

On 14 December, 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."

'I will be dead' - another text message shown to the court read

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 21 December, 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."

Boden, of Romford Way in Barrow Hill, Chesterfield, and Marsden, of no fixed address, deny murder, two counts of child cruelty, and two charges of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.