Mother told social worker how father 'killed' baby son Finley Boden, murder trial told

The 10-month-old baby suffered 57 fractures – including to his collarbones, thighs, and pelvis – and 71 bruises, some up to two weeks old, Derby Crown Court heard Credit: PA

A mother jointly accused of the "savage and brutal" Christmas Day murder of her baby son later allegedly told a social worker the child’s father "killed" the young boy, a court has heard.

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

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

Jurors have already heard Finley suffered a catalogue of "appalling" injuries, including two burns, one likely "from a cigarette lighter flame", 57 fractures – including to his collarbones, thighs, and pelvis – and 71 bruises, some up to two weeks old.

On Tuesday, a jury at Derby Crown Court heard evidence from social worker Jennifer Hancock, who recounted details of a half-hour telephone conversation she had with Marsden on 11 February 2021.

The call took place after both parents had already been initially arrested and released on conditional bail not to contact one another, while police investigations into Finley’s death were continuing.

Marsden sent a text message to Mrs Hancock, asking her to ring – which the local authority worker immediately did.

Mary Prior KC, prosecuting, asked the witness what Marsden’s manner was during the call, to which she replied: "She was irate, distressed, shouting, talking at great speed and swearing at me."

In the midst of the call, Mrs Hancock claimed she was asked by Marsden to pass on a message to another male family member, telling the social worker: "Tell him the full-on truth."

Mrs Hancock added Marsden then alleged Boden "killed" Finley and that she (Marsden) "didn’t see it coming".

In the same conversation, Marsden alleged Finley "was beaten to death".

Both Boden and Marsden deny murdering their son, who suffered a fatal collapse at the couple’s home in Holland Road, Great Whittington, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, in the early hours of December 25.

Marsden had also claimed in the call that Boden "was in contact with other women", telling one of them she (Marsden) "was dead", and also told his partner "he was going to leave" in the days before Finley’s death, the jury heard.

Ms Prior asked the social worker: "Did she (Marsden) say anything else to you about how Mr Boden would talk to her?"

Mrs Hancock said: "She did. When pregnant with Finley, which was unexpected, he told her to ‘do what you like’."

The Crown’s KC then asked: "Did she tell you anything about how Mr Boden spoke about Finley?"

The social worker replied: "She told me he killed his own son… and that she was annoyed and stated Mr Boden had said to the police, he ‘might have done it, he can’t remember’.”

Mrs Hancock said she continued supporting Marsden after her son’s death, contacting the GP about her mental health, making regular check-ins, and also inquired about getting her help as a possible victim of domestic abuse.

The social worker said: "We were concerned about whether there was domestic abuse.

"She was referred through as high risk, and allocated an independent domestic high-risk advocate.

"They (the advocate) speak about safety plans, if somebody needs to go into a refuge, help them and just generally making sure the person is supported, if they wanted to report incidents."

Asked what Marsden’s response to the domestic abuse support had been, Ms Hancock replied: "She declined the support, and she stated she hadn’t suffered domestic abuse."

Last week jurors heard how 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 (Boden) 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.