Finley Boden: Five key moments during murder trial at Derby Crown Court

Credit: Derbyshire Police (only to be used after verdict)
Finley Boden (left) was just 10-months old when he died Credit: Derbyshire Police

Warning: Readers may find some of the details in this article distressing

The parents of 10-month old Finley Boden, who was killed on Christmas Day in 2020, have been found guilty of his murder.

Stephen Boden, 29, and Shannon Marsden, 22, both denied murder, cruelty to a person under 16 and causing or allowing the death of a child, but were convicted following a trial at Derby Crown Court.

The trial heard how a catalogue of errors led to the death of the baby, who was found with 130 injuries including signs that he had been burnt.

But just 39 days before his death, he was in care.

ITV News Central has broken down the key lines heard during the murder trial.

Text messages and internet searches

Messages shared between his parents were shown to the court, as were their internet searches.

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

On 15 October 2020, an internet search 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.

In one text message from a 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."

Less than three days later, Finley was dead.

Court hears evidence of drug use

Social worker Emiley Hollindale, who worked with the family from January 2020 until shortly after Finley’s death in the December, described how the couple used cannabis.

Mary Prior KC, prosecuting, asked why the substance’s use was checked, with the social worker replying: “Because of the impact it could have on the child should he be returned to the care of his parents, particularly safe use of cannabis.

"We can’t assess that risk without knowing what the risk was."

Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden Credit: Derbyshire Police

The court heard evidence both parents used cannabis, although Marsden was “not being open and honest” about the level of drug use, claiming she had not used cannabis “since July 2019”.

Marsden “previously denied using cannabis while pregnant with Finley”, according to Ms Hollindale, but testing had found she had been smoking the drug while carrying her baby.

Hair tests for Marsden later found “a significant increase in the use of cannabis” in early summer 2020.

Boden’s hair tests showed he was using a "significant amount of cannabis on repeated occasions", and "had accepted smoking cannabis", added Ms Hollindale.

Ms Hollindale noted the couple’s drug use as one of several "concerns" within a report which informed the October 2020 court proceedings.

The couple 'systemically' beat their son, court hears

At the time of his death, Finley was found to have suffered 130 separate “appalling” injuries, prosecutors 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.

Finley's pelvis was broken in two places, Ms Prior said, possibly from sustained "kicking or stamping" inflicted in the short period before his fatal collapse.

The youngster also had two burns on his left hand, images of which were shown to Derby Crown Court jurors; one a contact burn "from a hot, flat surface", the other probably “from a cigarette lighter flame”.

Finley Boden was just 10 months old when he died Credit: Derbyshire Police

The inside of Finley’s mouth was “torn”, with Ms Prior saying: “This is caused by forcing a dummy or a bottle in the mouth.”

The baby had a "spiral" break to a thigh, while a shin bone break was "consistent with being held by the ankle and gripped and twisted".

Finley’s cause of death was given as multiple episodes of non-accidental blunt force trauma, the court was told.

Finley's mum claims dad killed baby during call to social workers

The court heard from social worker Jennifer Hancock, who told jurors about a call she had with Marsden on February 11 last year.

Mary Prior KC, prosecuting, asked Ms Hancock on Tuesday how Marsden acted on 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 claimed Finley "was beaten to death", Ms Hancock said.

Social workers asked for longer transition back to the couple's care

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

He was returned to the couple’s care over eight weeks by a court order in October 2020, despite social workers asking for a longer transition.

Derby Crown Court heard how a report by the family’s social worker had recommended a six-month transition.

This would be three times longer than the eight-week period which was ordered.

Social worker Emiley Hollindale, who worked with the family from January 2020 until shortly after Finley’s death in the December, authored a report in which she recommended a longer transition because of concerns about Marsden and Boden’s parenting capabilities.

Ms Hollindale noted the couple’s drug use as one of several “concerns” within a report which informed the October 2020 court proceedings.

A Derbyshire County Council spokeswoman said: "Finley’s death is a tragedy and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to everyone who knew and loved him.

"Following the conviction of Finley’s parents for murder we continue to be fully engaged with the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership which has commissioned a local child safeguarding practice review.

"This is a statutory legal process, formerly referred to as a serious case review, which looks in depth at the role of all agencies following the death of a child.

"The review is conducted independently and it would not be appropriate for us to comment further until that review is complete to ensure we do not pre-empt its findings.

"Once the review process has concluded we will be in a position to communicate more fully about this case."

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