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Finley Boden: Derbyshire couple guilty of 10-month-old's death

|News, Violent crime

A couple from Chesterfield have been convicted of the murder of their ten-month-old son in 2020.

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day 2020 as a result of a succession of injuries inflicted at home and ignored by his parents, Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden.

Investigations into Finley’s death showed that, rather than a single cause of death, he had died from complications due to a series of injuries that on their own would not have been fatal. 

The CPS presented evidence that Finley’s injuries were the result of significant and repeated acts of violence carried out by Boden and Marsden, and that their combined neglect in failing to seek treatment for his injuries resulted in complications and infections causing his death.

Investigations into Finley’s death showed he had sustained 71 external injuries, including bruising, burns and abrasions. He had also suffered multiple fractures and other internal injuries.

Medical experts instructed by the prosecution confirmed that the majority of the injuries were caused by blunt force trauma and required significant force to inflict.

Not only did the defendants fail to seek treatment for Finley, they also actively conspired to conceal his injuries from the authorities tasked with his protection.

Boden and Marsden were charged with Finley’s murder and, following a lengthy trial at Derby Crown Court, were both today, 14 April, convicted of murder.

Andrew Baxter, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor from the CPS, said: “The violence these two individuals inflicted and their wilful neglect in covering up his injuries is incomprehensible – as his parents they should have been the ones who protected him from harm, not be the cause of it.

“These defendants sought to have their child returned to their care and then treated him in this appalling manner. It was clear that Finley’s injuries were obvious and that he needed help, yet his own parents chose to ignore his needs to protect themselves.

“Bringing this case to court and reliving the last few weeks of Finley Boden’s life has been a difficult and distressing process for everyone. It has been a complex and lengthy case to prepare and to bring to trial.

“I would like to offer my sincere sympathies to Finley’s remaining loved ones who not only have to come to terms with his loss, but also the manner in which he died.

“I would also like to thank my prosecution team who worked so hard and who were so dedicated in this distressing and complex case which resulted in a successful outcome.”

Sentencing will take place at a date to be determined.

Building the case

To prove an allegation of murder, the CPS must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence that the victim’s death was caused by the defendant or defendants and that they acted with intent to kill or cause very serious harm.

In this case, the CPS presented comprehensive evidence of the cause of Finley Boden’s death, the number and severity of his injuries and the defendants’ actions while Finley was in their care to demonstrate their culpability and intent.

The evidence was clear that they alone were responsible for Finley’s death. The defendants claimed that they had not assaulted Finley and that his injuries were accidental, so the CPS instructed medical experts to show that their explanations for Finley’s injuries were completely implausible and that they could only have been inflicted by one or both of them with considerable force.

The prosecution presented evidence of a pattern of the defendants’ behaviour to demonstrate that they continued to live a chaotic lifestyle, consuming drugs and 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 Boden. The CPS presented 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, and that she chose to continue to cover up what they had done. The CPS also gave the jury evidence that the two 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.

The CPS also secured 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. The prosecution showed the jury photos of the conditions within the family home, evidence of violent behaviour and regular drug use.

The findings in relation to the defendants’ intent were a matter for the jury to consider on the basis of the evidence, so the CPS gave the jury a range of options to consider, including murder, manslaughter and causing or allowing the death of a child so that, whatever their findings, they would be able to hold either or both defendant accountable for Finley’s death.

Notes to editors

  • Andrew Baxter is a Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands 

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