Man accused of murdering baby son at Chesterfield home says he never 'deliberately' hurt him

Stephen Boden is on trial for the murder of his son, Finley Boden, at Derby Crown Court. Credit: ITV News Central

A father accused of murdering his 10-month-old son on Christmas Day at their home in Chesterfield, has claimed he never "deliberately" hurt his child.

Stephen Boden and his partner, Shannon Marsden, are accused of killing Finley Boden during the winter 2020 Covid lockdown, 39 days after the little boy was placed back into their care by social services.

Finley was found to have suffered 130 separate "appalling" injuries, prosecutors previously told the trial, including 71 bruises and cuts, 57 bone fractures and two burns in the three weeks prior to his death, some up to two weeks old.

Giving evidence at Derby Crown Court on Tuesday, Boden, 30, acknowledged thathe told police in an interview that he may have "rocked (Finley) too hard", which could have accidentally caused the injuries, but that this was never an attempt to hurt him.

Simon Kealey KC, defending Boden, asked: "Can you explain to the jury what youmeant by that?"

Boden responded: "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."

Mr Kealey asked: "Was that to deliberately hurt him?"

"No," Boden responded.

Mr Kealey asked: "Were you admitting to deliberately hurting Finley?"

Boden replied: "No, I was just trying to give an explanation as to what couldhave happened if it was me who did it.

"I felt under pressure to give some type of explanation."

Mr Kealey later asked: "Did you accept that you could have done anything tocause the injuries?"

"No," Boden said.

Boden admitted that he continued a sexual relationship with Marsden after beingarrested and bailed in late 2020, despite not being allowed to contact each other under their bail conditions.

After being arrested again and remanded in custody in early 2022, the pair sent Valentine's Day cards and letters to each other, in which Marsden, 22, said she would love Boden "forever" and would "always be standing by" her partner.

The murder allegedly took place at the couple's home in Holland Road, Old Whittington, Derbyshire, while Finley was in the sole care of the two defendants.

Mr Kealey asked Boden: "What did you think of the fact that, if you had notcommitted the murder, there was only one other person who could have done it?"

Boden replied: "I thought of it, yeah, but it seemed the only thing that was normal at the time was me and Shannon."

Giving evidence on Monday, Boden said that after Finley was pronounced dead at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, he understood what had happened but "did not want to understand it" and "did not want to believe it".

Mary Prior KC, prosecuting, previously told the court that the couple "were, and they remain, in it together" after they jointly and "systematically" beat their son.

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.