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Inside the courtroom as Finley Boden's parents sentenced for murder

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A couple who killed their 10-month-old baby boy have today been jailed for a combined total of 56 years. Following a trial which lasted a number of months at Derby Crown Court, a jury found Stephen Boden and partner Shannon Marsden guilty of the murder of Finley Boden.

The murder took place at the couple's home in Holland Road, Old Whittington, Derbyshire, while Finley was in the sole care of the two defendants during the winter Covid lockdown in December 2020, 39 days after the tot was returned to their care.

Finley suffered 130 separate "appalling" injuries, including 71 bruises and cuts, 57 bone fractures and two burns in the three weeks prior to his death, some of which were up to two weeks old.

BACKGROUND: Old Whittington couple found guilty of murdering their 10-month-old baby boy

Opening the trial in November last year, Mary Prior KC said: "What is this case about? This case involves the savage and brutal murder of a baby boy called Finley. The prosecution say that he was murdered by his mother and father working together. This little boy would have [been in] pain leading up to his death, he would have limited movement, and moving his leg to change his nappy would have hurt a lot.

"How did Finley die? After his ribs were fractured, in the absence of any medical care or attention, Finley's body tried to cope with all of his broken bones, his pain and swelling. Because of the large number of rib fractures, Finley struggled to breathe as well as he had done before.

"He got a chest infection which spread around his body. Infection took hold. He developed pneumonia. His heart became infected. He developed endocarditis, a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves. By the time he died he had developed sepsis."

Boden murdered his baby, Finley, with his partner Marsden

Mrs Prior said Marsden was 17 and Boden was 24 when they first met and that they both enjoyed smoking cannabis together. She said Finley was born in February 2020 and was initially taken into care but returned to the care of his parents 39 days before he died.

She said: "Finley relied on his mother and father to look after him and seek medical attention for him. They did not do that, neither of them. In the days leading up to his death, neither of his parents took him to their GP, the hospital or called 111 or 999 to get help for Finley until he died. There were professionals who could have helped him. Why did they fail to seek medical help?

READ MORE: New transcript shows why court gave Finley Boden back to parents who murdered him

"We say there is only one answer and that's that these parents worked together to keep professionals away to protect each other and to cover up serious violence. The result of this self-centred and self-focused conduct was that they watched his laboured breathing together.

"They watched his lack of movement. They watched him deteriorate together and allowed him to die. Had they put Finley first, had they taken him for treatment, then the likelihood is that he would have lived."

Finley Boden was murdered by his parents (Image: Derbyshire police)

Finley was returned to Boden and Marsden's care, in a legal bid supported by the couple, over a set eight-week period by a family court order, despite Derbyshire social services asking for a longer six-month transition. Just weeks after the baby was back living with the couple, a social worker looked through the window to see Finley "lying on the sofa, by himself", however, the youngster remained in his parents' care.

Giving evidence in his defence, Boden, 30, acknowledged that he 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.

READ MORE: Pictures show how killer parents cleaned up home before they were given custody of Finley Boden

He said: "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."

Boden admitted that he continued a sexual relationship with Marsden after being arrested 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.

Read our live updates from inside Derby Crown Court on Friday, May 26, at the bottom of this story.

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14:48Martin Naylor

Life sentences handed down

Both Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden have been jailed for life. Boden has been told he will serve a minimum of 29 years and Marsden 27 years before they will be eligible to apply for parole. She said: "You both wanted a family but you wanted it on your terms regardless of your use of cannabis and I am sure you were under the influence of cannabis when you carried out these brutal assaults. You hated the idea of social care being involved. Neither of you have shown any remorse."

14:35Martin Naylor

Two acting together

Justice Tipples said: "What happened could only have been achieved by two people acting together."

14:29Martin Naylor

'No longer happy and smiley'

The Judge said: "By December 16, Finley was badly injured with marks and bruises on his body, he was completely miserable. Finley was no longer the happy, smiley baby that had been returned to your care. Both of you knew that and both of you did nothing."

14:25Martin Naylor

'Only you knew'

Justice Tipples said: "Only you two knew what actually happened after December 4, 2020. You kept yourselves to yourselves desperate nothing should happen that could lead to a report to the authorities by neighbours. During December 2020 you were both using large amounts of cannabis with you, Stephen Boden, going out every day to buy it."

14:17Martin Naylor


The judge has outlined the number of injuries Finley was found to have. She said: "From all the evidence I am sure the fractures occurred on two separate occasions by sustained, brutal, assaults. By the evening of December 23 he was plainly dying. There was no subtlety, it was totally obvious to both of you."

14:12Martin Naylor


Justice Tipples said: "The last moments of his life were harrowing. Finley died in the early hours of Christmas Day, 2020, in his cot in the bedroom of your home. You both knew he was dying as a result of what you did to him. You deliberately made sure he was not seen by anyone who could help him and I am sure you both knew Finley was dead when you called 999."

14:06Martin Naylor

Mrs Justice Tipples has begun her remarks

The judge said: "There are number of things I have to say in passing sentence. Finley was a lovely baby, he was smily, chuckling and was just over 10 months old when you murdered him."

13:55Martin Naylor

Case called back on

Eight of the jury members who found the couple guilty of murdering Finley have returned to Derby Crown Court to see them sentenced.

13:22Martin Naylor

Police commendations

Matters are believed to still be on schedule for a 2pm sentence. During it, the judge is expected to outline some of the more serious injuries Finley sustained. If these are too harrowing for publication we will not make any reference to them in our live updates. Following that she will pass sentence and is also expected to make commendations to Derbyshire police officers involved in the investigation.

11:43Martin Naylor

Sentence at 2pm

Mrs Justice Tipples has said she will sentence Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden at 2pm. She said it will take 45 minutes to an hour for her to do so.

11:34Martin Naylor

Marsden 'ill-equipped for motherhood'

Mr Vout said: "It is plain Miss Marsden's feelings overrode all accounts. The evidence clearly shows she was covering for Mr Boden because she was at his call. She was ill-equipped for motherhood with this partner, she was young, immature and had mental health issues of her own. She was unwilling to take the help being offered by social services."

11:29Martin Naylor

'A secondary part'

Andrew Vout KC is giving his mitigation for his client. In it he has said she was "a secondary part in this" compared to Boden's involvement.

11:27Martin Naylor

'Strong emotional affection'

Mr Kealey has said there was evidence shown to the jury during the trial which demonstrated his client "had a strong emotional affection" for Finley.

11:19Martin Naylor

Not a 30-year starting point

Mr Kealey has also argued that the case "does not meet the criteria" of a starting pont of 30 years and instead it should be 15 years "but we concede there are a number of seriously aggravating factors" which would lead to an upward movement from there.

11:12Martin Naylor

'Not a whole life order'

Simon Kealey KC, for Boden, is now mitigating for his client. He has submitted that the offence "does not merit a whole life order".

11:06Martin Naylor

'Aggressive, sustained and violent'

The prosecutor said: "The fatal assault or assaults involved more than a momentary loss of temper, they were aggressive, sustained and violent."

11:01Martin Naylor

'Vicious assaults'

Miss Prior said: "(Finley) sustained vicious assaults committed against a background of violence leaving him unable to eat. The living conditions were unsafe and unhygenic, there was cannabis in Finley's bloodstream. No medical assistance was sought for his chest condition which developed into sepsis."

10:55Martin Naylor

'A plan'

Miss Prior said: "They came up with a plan to suggest Finley had Covid to stop entry to the property (by social services)."

10:51Martin Naylor

'Sadistic motivation'

Miss Prior has argued the starting point the judge should consider should be 30 years "because it was prolonged and savage violence against a child". She said: "This involves the torture of a child with a sadistic motivation."

10:48Martin Naylor

No account of Finley's death from either defendant

Miss Prior said: "Neither defendant has been able to provide any account as to what they did to Finley or why they did it."

10:43Martin Naylor


One of the statements has concluded with the words 'I can only describe you as 'monsters' for what you have done".

10:41Martin Naylor

Victim impact statements

Victim impact statements are being read to the court by Miss Prior. They talk of how the loss of Finley has affected those who knew him.

10:35Martin Naylor

Previous convictions

Boden has 22 previous convictions for 33 offences, Miss Prior has said but not for violence. He has a number of convictions for cannabis including production and possession of the class B drug. Marsden has no previous convictions.

10:33Martin Naylor

The case has been called on

The case has been called on. The public and press gallery is as good as full. Mary Prior KC is prosecuting, as she did during the trial. Boden is represented by Simon Kealey KC while Marsden's barrister is Andrew Vout KC. The hearing is being filmed by Sky TV but won't be broadcast live. Both defendants are in the dock.

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