Finley Boden: Parents Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden sentenced to life in prison for his murder

  • ITV News Central correspondent Phil Brewster looks back at what happened in the months leading up to Finley Boden's brutal murder at the hands of his mum and dad.

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

The parents of 10-month-old Finley Boden have been sentenced to life in prison for his murder.

Stephen Boden, 30, and Shannon Marsden, 22, were convicted of murder at Derby Crown Court on Friday 14 April, following a six month trial.

Justice Amanda Tipples said in the days leading up to his death, Finley would have been in a considerable amount of pain, distress and suffering.

Stephen Boden was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 29 years.

Shannon Marsden was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 27 years.

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day in 2020 at his family home in Chesterfield - just 39 days after being returned from care.

He had over 130 injuries on his body and had sepsis and pneumonia.

The couple had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, manslaughter and causing or allowing the death of a child.

Justice Amanda Tipples told Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden in court today: "You both knew that Finley was very seriously ill and dying, yet you deliberately failed to seek any medical help for him."

She said they "made sure he was not seen by anyone who could have rescued him." Medical intervention would have saved Finley's life and he would have survived if he had been given care and antibiotics,” the judge says.

"He would be alive today."

Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden have been jailed for the murder of their son, 10-month-old Finley Boden Credit: Derbyshire Police

The trial heard how a catalogue of errors led to the death of the toddler, who was found with dozens of 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.

The court heard his pelvis had been broken in two places, possibly from sustained "kicking or stamping", and he had two burns on his left hand - one "from a hot, flat surface", the other probably "from a cigarette lighter flame."

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

Shannon Marsden pictured with son 10-month-old Finley Boden, just four weeks before his murder. Credit: Derbyshire Police

New documents released earlier this week revealed a Family Court was told Boden and Marsden "did not pose an unmanageable risk", before he was placed back into their care just months before they murdered him.

A transcript of a Family Court hearing, held over the phone during the pandemic, shows that despite calls by the local council for a gradual four-month transition back into the care of parents Shannon Marsden and Stephen Boden and drug testing for the pair, the court ordered he be returned to them within eight weeks without any tests.

It also reveals that Finley was given back to his parents despite them appearing to lie about their drug use, with multiple drug deals taking place in the days immediately before his murder.

  • Paul Bullock speaks after the guilty verdict

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Paul Bullock from Derbyshire Police said Finley's parents' primary concern was their own freedom and not his life.

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 had many great times with them. That was until he was in the care of Stephen Boden and Sharon Marsden.

"As a parent you have no greater responsibility than to a child who is in your care.

"But Boden and Marsden couldn't even bring themselves to take poor Finley to hospital when it 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 Finley."

Police say Finley Boden was much-loved by his wider family with many great times had, until he was in the care of his killer parents. Credit: Derbyshire Police

Children's charity, the NSPCC, said the cruelty and abuse inflicted on Finley leading up to his death was "appalling" and "heart-breaking".

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “The death of a child in such brutal circumstances leaves many of us asking questions and we await the Child Safeguarding Practice Review to establish exactly what happened and any ways in which Finley could have been better protected, in order to help prevent future tragedies.

“We know that babies and our youngest children are particularly vulnerable to abuse and completely reliant on the adults around them for care and protection. Nationally the Government must takes forward the changes recommended by previous reviews and experts to transform the child protection system and ensure the different agencies involved are able to work together effectively to focus on children and babies like Finley.

“It’s also crucial that everyone does all they can to prevent child abuse. Anyone who has concerns for a child’s safety should contact the local authorities, the police or the NSPCC Helpline.”

Statement from Derbyshire County Council

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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