Home Uncategorized Another baby lost to Britain’s ‘broken care system’: Tragic Finley Boden’s death...

Another baby lost to Britain’s ‘broken care system’: Tragic Finley Boden’s death at the hands of his drug addict parents must serve as an urgent wake-up call – as campaigners warn ‘lessons must be learned’

13
0


A campaigner for children in care has warned that ‘lessons must be learned’ after ‘yet another child was lost to Britain’s broken care system’.

Chris Wild told MailOnline that the murder of ten-month-old Finley Boden must serve as an urgent wake-up call for ministers to support the ‘underfunded’ care sector.

Tragic Finley was murdered by his parents on Christmas Day in 2020, just 39 days after being returned to the care of his drug addict parents Shannon Marsden and Stephen Boden. 

The innocent infant was burnt and beat by his parents – leaving him with 130 separate injuries, including 71 bruises and 57 fractures that left almost every bone in his body broken. 

Marsden and Boden, from Old Whittington in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, were found guilty of his murder and were handed life sentences in May last year. 

A damning review into the lead-up up to tragic baby’s murder said Finley ‘should have been one of the most protected children in the local authority area’ but found ‘significant shortcomings’ in plans for him to be reunited with his parents.

Responding to the report, Mr Wild, who lost his father at the age of 11 and grew up in the care system, told MailOnline: ‘Yet again another child lost to our broken system. “Lessons must be learned” yet no one seems to be putting these words into action. 

Finley Boden was beaten to death by his parents just 39 days after he was returned to their care by social services

Finley Boden was beaten to death by his parents just 39 days after he was returned to their care by social services

His parents, Shannon Marsden (left) and Stephen Boden (right), were jailed for a minimum of 27 and 29 years respectively for murdering the 10-month-old

His parents, Shannon Marsden (left) and Stephen Boden (right), were jailed for a minimum of 27 and 29 years respectively for murdering the 10-month-old

Timeline of Finley’s short life and contact with social services

September 20, 2019: Marsden informs social care she is 20 weeks pregnant with Finley after ‘concealing’ the fact she was carrying a child

October 2019: Social care begin court proceedings in relation to the unborn child 

January 16, 2020: Social worker visits the couple’s address, finding holes in a bedroom door

January 21, 2020: Unborn Finley is made subject of a child protection plan 

February 15, 2020: Finley is born

February 18, 2020: Finley leaves hospital and is removed from the couple’s care

February 25, 2020: Boden and Marsden tell social care they want Finley back

October 1, 2020: Family court directs Finley should be returned to care of his parents under an eight-week plan including unsupervised visits and overnight stays of varying durations

November 17, 2020: Finley is allowed to live permanently with his parents 

November 19, 2020: New social worker visits home address and finds Finley has four-centimetre bruise on his forehead. They take his parents claims it was caused by an accident with a toy at face value

November 20, 2020: Health visitor visits the address. They also take the excuse regarding his bruising at face value

November 26, 2020: Health visitor tries to call Marsden to find out why Finley has not been registered with a GP but there is no answer

November 27, 2020: Social worker makes unannounced visit to the home, but is forced to observe Finley through the window after getting no answer when knocking on the door for 10 minutes

November 29, 2020: Boden and Marsden record video and pictures of Finley on their phone

December 23, 2020: Social worker visits the property but doesn’t go inside after accepting Boden’s claim that Finley has Covid at face value. Moments later she sees Marsden appearing to buy drugs in the street but doesn’t challenge her about this

December 24, 2020: Finley is seen alive for the last time as he is taken out by his parents in Chesterfield. A planned visit by social services does not take place and a request for the duty social worker to attend the house is not fulfilled

December 25, 2020: Finley is murdered

‘Unfortunately we can point the finger in the Finley Boden case and it points directly to an underfunded sector that fails to prioritise the safety of children even when all the evidence clearly shows this could have been prevented.’ 

Marsden and Boden inflicted 130 injuries on their son before he fatally collapsed at his family home.

He had been returned to their care on November 17 that year by a family court despite social services raising concerns over Boden and Marsden’s drug use and the state of the family home.

After returning home, the child was subjected to a campaign of abuse and was found to have a multitude of injuries at the time of his death, as well as conditions including sepsis and pneumonia.

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into Finley’s death, published by the safeguarding children partnership on Wednesday, said while Finley’s parents were responsible for his death, ‘professional interventions should have protected him’.

Care home consultant Mr Wild highlighted that in January 2023, a care review was published with a number of recommendations ‘that could potentially stop children and young people in our care system becoming victims of social neglect’.

He explained: ‘The lack of funding is a safeguarding issue within itself and the astronomical pressure put on care professionals has caused a huge fracture throughout which inevitably increases the risk of keeping children safe.

‘I have been lobbying central government for the past two years asking for immediate action and more importantly for the care review recommendations to be passed through Parliament.

‘We need more Social Workers back in our communities and not behind a desk looking at data all day.

‘Children are not KPI’s. And due to the lack of resources mistakes are made and yet again we have another tragic story when it could have been easily prevented.

‘Children in care are still children.’

Wednesday’s review, which has been anonymised, said: ‘In this instance, a child died as the result of abuse when he should have been one of the most protected children in the local authority area.’

It said the ‘most significant professional decision’ was that he should live with his parents, and concluded that ‘the safeguarding environment in which that decision was made had been incrementally weakened by the decisions, actions, circumstances and events which preceded it’.

Most of what had been experienced by Finley in the final weeks of his life ‘was unknown to professionals working with the family at that time’, the report said.

But it added: ‘The review has found, nevertheless, that safeguarding practice during that time was inadequate.’

It noted there had been a six-week period where a social worker was off sick and that during that time no social work visits to Finley or his parents took place.

The review acknowledged that Covid 19 regulations and their consequences had ‘exacerbated’ the couple’s inaccessibility to professionals, but added that the local authority had accepted ‘more could have been done to ‘work’ the case and to formulate the final care plan’ in spite of the ‘unique’ pressures of the pandemic.

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day 2020 - just over a month after being placed back into his parents' care

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day 2020 – just over a month after being placed back into his parents’ care

Shannon Marsden pictured with her son Finley Boden before the innocent baby's death

Shannon Marsden pictured with her son Finley Boden before the innocent baby’s death

Stephen Boden holding Finley, six weeks before the child's death on Christmas Day 2020

Stephen Boden holding Finley, six weeks before the child’s death on Christmas Day 2020

A court sketch of Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden during their trial on March 1, 2023

A court sketch of Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden during their trial on March 1, 2023

It also emerged that Finley was also handed back to his drug addict parents at a ‘pivotal’ court hearing against the advice of social workers which was held remotely over the telephone because of the Covid pandemic.

The review revealed that at a crucial hearing before magistrates on 1 October 2020 the local authority argued that Finley should return gradually to his parents’ care through a ‘transition plan’ over four months, during which time he would be monitored for his safety. 

They also demanded that the parents be tested regularly for drugs and warned against the dangers of sending him back ‘too soon.’

But the couple both wanted the youngster back more quickly with Boden claiming in a statement: ‘Shannon and I have worked really hard to make changes.’

They also maintained that they had addressed their drug use with Shannon insisting that she had been ‘given the incentive to quit completely.’

The review revealed that the hearing took place between Covid lockdowns when courts were still working remotely and that all parties argued their case over the phone. Marsden and Boden did not speak at all.

The review by Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership also names the key figures involved that decided Finley’s fate.

When police searched Boden and Marsden's property they discovered an 'unclean' home

When police searched Boden and Marsden’s property they discovered an ‘unclean’ home

A report was submitted to the court by Amanda O’Rourke, Finley’s guardian from Cafcass, the independent Children and Families Court Advisory Service, which was appointed to represent his best interests.

Despite acknowledging his parents drug use and domestic violence, she argued that he should be handed over to them within six to eight weeks because they had ‘clearly made and sustained positive changes.’

The final decision was made by two magistrates, Kathy Gallimore and Susan Burns, who were assisted by a legal adviser.

They ruled that Finley should be handed back to his parents over an eight-week transition period which they deemed to be a ‘reasonable and proportionate’ length of time that would protect his welfare.

A pervious hearing was shown texts (mock ups pictured) that were sent from the couple's phone

Mock up image of text messages the court heard were sent from the couple’s phone

A baby bottle containing gone-off milk and cannabis found by police in the bedroom at the time of the death

A baby bottle containing gone-off milk and cannabis found by police in the bedroom at the time of the death

They also ruled that Marsden and Boden did not pose an ‘unmanageable risk’ to their son.

The magistrates also did not order any further drug tests of his parents, despite requests from the local authority, and he came into their care on 17 November.

At their sentencing last year, Mrs Justice Amanda Tipples said Marsden and Boden were ‘persuasive and accomplished liars’ who ‘brutally assaulted’ their son.

Details of a Family Court order, made in October 2020 and disclosed to the media last year, showed that magistrates said Finley should be given back to his parents within eight weeks and without them being drug tested.

That was despite Derbyshire County Council telling the Family Court they had ‘some concerns’ over Boden and Marsden’s cannabis use, asking the court for a four-month transition period in order to have ‘complete confidence’ in their parenting abilities.

The Family Court heard from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) that the risk of harm posed to Finley by his parents was not unmanageable and did not require him to be placed out of their care ‘in the foreseeable future’.

The safeguarding review found ‘significant shortcomings’ in relation to plans for family reunification, stating that ‘positive assessments’ of his parents’ capabilities to care for him ‘fell short of an adequate evaluation of the risks’ to which he would be exposed.

Finley's parents' bedroom had been cleaned up when social workers visited. Pictured is the room before Finley's arrival

Finley’s parents’ bedroom had been cleaned up when social workers visited. Pictured is the room before Finley’s arrival 

Photo issued by Derbyshire Police of their filthy bathroom at the time Finley was killed, with dirty clothes left in the bath

Photo issued by Derbyshire Police of their filthy bathroom at the time Finley was killed, with dirty clothes left in the bath 

Responding to the safeguarding review, Cafcass said it was ‘profoundly sorry that together we were unable to prevent’ Finley’s death and blamed his parents’ deception.

The service said that at the time of the court decision in October 2020 ‘everyone involved – including his guardian – believed his parents had made and sustained the changes necessary to care for him safely’.

They added: ‘What led to his death was the ability of Finley’s parents to deceive everyone involved, about their love for him and their desire to care for him.

‘No-one could have predicted from what was known at the time that they were capable of such cruelty or that there was a risk that they would intentionally hurt him, let alone murder him.’

The county council’s executive director for children’s services, Carol Cammiss, described Finley’s death as ‘a tragedy for everyone who knew him and everyone involved in his care’.

She said: ‘Despite the significant Covid restrictions placed on our work at the time, we know there were missed opportunities for stronger practice and we apologise for that.’

Finley Boden was only ten months old when he died at the hands of his parents

Finley Boden was only ten months old when he died at the hands of his parents

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day after suffering prolonged abuse at the hands of his parents

Finley Boden died on Christmas Day after suffering prolonged abuse at the hands of his parents

She said the council had acted quickly after Finley’s death to ‘review and strengthen our systems and continue to monitor the way we work with babies and families’ and that it accepts the findings and recommendations of the review ‘and takes full responsibility for its actions in this case’.

She insisted the local authority ‘is definitely in a stronger place’ now and that learning from what happened in Finley’s case ‘has already been embedded’.

She added: ‘That doesn’t mean that we’re complacent. We want to strive to be the best that we can be, and to provide safe services to all the children that we work with.’

The safeguarding partnership said it accepted the review’s recommendations in full and will ‘take the additional action necessary to further reduce the risk of a repeat of a similar incident’.

Its independent chairman and scrutineer, Steve Atkinson, said: ‘We owe it to Finley to take action on the basis of the recommendations in the report.’

He said that while it cannot be guaranteed a similar case would never happen in future, ‘we can significantly reduce the risk by taking on board and acting on the recommendations in the report’.

The review made 11 recommendations in total, including that the partnership carries out ‘a multi-agency audit’ of recent parenting assessments to consider their quality, for local public health commissioners of substance misuse services and the local authority to ‘develop a working joint protocol’.

It also recommended that it is ensures arrangements are in place for effective local response to domestic abuse, with Marsden having been accepted during the court case as having been a victim of such abuse.



Source link

Previous articleSarah Hyland Exits ‘Love Island USA’ After Two Seasons As Host On Peacock
Next articleProminent Ivy League LGBTQ activist, 53, is arrested on child porn charges at his home near Princeton University

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here