How the CPS built their case against baby Finley Boden's killer parents

  • Police speaking after the parents of Finley Boden were found guilty of his murder

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, 30, 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. 

Prosecutor Mary Prior KC described how Finley had suffered a catalogue of "appalling" injuries, including 71 bruises over his body and 57 fractures, many inflicted in the short period before his fatal collapse.

These included breaks to his collar bone, shoulder, shin, thigh bones, pelvis and ribs in the days leading to his death.

ITV News Central has broken down how the Crown Prosecution Service built the case against baby Finley's killer parents.

What did the CPS have to prove?

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

Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden were both charged with murder.

To prove an allegation of murder, the CPS needed to be satisfied that there was sufficient evidence that baby Finley's death was caused by them.

Building the case

The prosecution presented medical experts to share their findings which explained Finley's injuries.

Their explanation showed the youngster's injuries were "completely implausible" and that they could only have been inflicted by one or both of them with considerable force.

The defendants claimed they had assaulted the infant and that his injuries were accidental.

The evidence presented

Evidence of the parents' behaviour was presented as evidence to demonstrate the "continued chaotic lifestyle" that was full of drugs, while paying little attention to Finley’s welfare while he was in their care.

Marsden claimed that she had only acted in the way she did because she was under the control of Stephen Boden.

The CPS brought evidence of occasions where she could have safely raised concerns about Finley’s welfare at a time his injures and complications would have been obvious, but that she chose to continue to cover up what they had done. 

The jury were also presented with evidence that the couple had continued to stay in contact while on bail with conditions not to contact each other.

The prosecution argued that these were not the actions of someone in fear of an abusive partner.

Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden Credit: Derbyshire Police

Witness evidence

The Crown Prosecution Service also provided witness evidence from families and others to establish a picture of the behaviour pattern of the defendants, including their continued drug use, their efforts to evade social services and the lies they told to cover up their abuse and neglect of Finley.

What did the police say?

The jury at Derby Crown Court took just over a week to find them both guilty of murder following a trial of more than six months.

Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Paul Bullock from Derbyshire Police, issued a statement outside court where he paid tribute to Finley and said that "justice had been delivered".

He said:

"Finley Boden died in what should have been the safest place in the world for him, his own home.

"He was much loved by his wider family and during his short life he knew many great times with them.

"That was until he was in the care of Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden.

"As a parent, you have no greater responsibility to a child that is in your care, but Boden and Marsden could not even bring themselves to take poor Finley to hospital when it was totally clear that he was critically ill.

"They've never given a reasonable explanation as to why they did not do this, but it appears abundantly clear that their primary concern was their own freedom and not the life of Finley."

Derbyshire County Council's statement

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.”