Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past year

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A number of parents have been jailed over the last 12 months for the deaths of their children
A number of parents have been jailed over the last 12 months for the deaths of their children

It's unfathomable when any violent act is committed against another person, but of all the crimes that can occur, a parent murdering their own baby has to be the most utterly incomprehensible one.

However, over the past 12 months, a harrowing number of sadistic parents and step-parents have been sentenced to prison for killing or allowing the death of their babies and children.

The deaths of 15-month-old Jacob Lennon, 10-month-old Jacob Crouch, five-month-old Ava Mae Collard, 10-month-old Finley Boden, and nine-year-old Alfie Steele all occurred between 2019 and 2021 and are just a small snapshot of the full scale of child deaths over the last few years - particularly during lockdown when 223 children died in the UK in instances where abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

Here, we take a look at the evil parents put behind bars over their children's chilling deaths this past year...

Craig Crouch and Gemma Barton

Craig Crouch was jailed for life on August 4, 2023, for the murder of his 10-month-old stepson and will serve a minimum term of 28 years. The 39-year-old was found guilty of murder and three counts of child cruelty, while Jacob's mother, Gemma Barton, 33, was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing Jacob's death and of an extra count of child cruelty.

Double killer who slit girlfriend's throat within weeks of release jailed erideuiqtqiqdrinvDouble killer who slit girlfriend's throat within weeks of release jailed

Mum Gemma was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, meaning the couple have been jailed for a combined total of at least 38 years. Jacob harrowingly died of peritonitis - an infection in the stomach lining - in December 2020 as a result of violent injuries inflicted by his cruel mum and stepdad.

Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearCraig Crouch (PA)
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearGemma Barton (PA)

Little Jacob had a catalogue of significant injuries after he was found dead in his cot at home in Derby, including 39 rib fractures and 19 visible bruises, and it was revealed that his mum and stepdad, who met on Plenty of Fish while she was four months pregnant, had "encouraged and applauded" one another as they inflicted assault after assault on the defenceless infant.

Jailing Craig Crouch at Derby Crown Court, Mr Justice Kerr said the offence was “an abuse of trust of the grossest kind”. He said: “He was a small baby who had not yet learned to walk or talk. Sadly, he never did so. To state the obvious, he could not defend himself. You caused Jacob acute physical and mental suffering. You inflicted first bruises, and then fractured ribs on this little baby. You have not shown any remorse for what you did. You have not explained what you did, or apologised.”

Jake Drummond and Louise Lennon

An evil mum who turned a blind eye as her partner tortured and murdered her son was jailed for 10 years in May 2023. Louise Lennon is said to have looked the other way while her partner Jake Drummond subjected 15-month-old Jacob Lennon to inhumane abuse, with the pair even sharing sick memes about their cruelty.

Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearLennon was jailed for 10 years (PA)
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearDrummond was jailed for 32 years (PA)

Drummond was jailed for 32 years for the murder of Jacob, while Lennon was given 10 years for causing or allowing the death. The little one died on August 27, 2019, and a post-mortem examination found that he had traumatic brain injuries, some of which were from a period of days or weeks earlier. His cause of death was a fatal brain injury inflicted some three to five hours prior to his death.

In addition to these injuries, there were 20 further marks of recent injury on Jacob's head, face, and neck, 11 to his arms, seven to his legs, and seven to his body. His genitals were also found to have suffered severe injuries. The examination established that Jacob had been subjected to days or weeks of abuse and violent assault.

Joshua Collard and Rebecca Grocott

A mother and father who broke multiple bones in their five-month-old baby girl's body were jailed for a total of 19 years for causing or allowing her death. Joshua Collard was sentenced to 11 years in prison at Stafford Crown Court on July 27, 2023, while Rebecca Grocott was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearCollard was sentenced to 11 years in prison (PA)
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearGrocott was sentenced to eight years imprisonment (PA)

Ava Mae Collard had been grasped so tightly she couldn't breathe and her heart stopped, and when paramedics arrived on February 27, 2020, they found the five-month-old was severely underweight with multiple rib, collarbone, and femur fractures, as well as severe trauma to the side of her head. Her parents said they did not know how the injuries were sustained and later denied harming her.

The judge described Ava Mae's dad, 30-year-old Collard, as a "violent, ill-tempered misogynist". Toxicology reports also showed Ava Mae had been exposed to cannabis, with the court hearing that Collard grew his own cannabis and had returned to the family home to remove the plants and associated equipment while his daughter was in critical care in hospital.

Stephen Boden and Shannon Marsden

Parents who sadistically murdered their baby boy just weeks after he was returned to their care were jailed for life in May 2023. Shannon Marsden and Stephen Boden were sentenced to 27 and 29 years in prison respectively at Derby Crown Court for the "savage and prolonged" murder of their son, Finley Boden.

Killer dances in his victim's house with twerking model who later turned on himKiller dances in his victim's house with twerking model who later turned on him
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearMarsden was sentenced to 27 years in jail (PA)
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearStephen Boden was sentenced to 29 years (PA)

The two inflicted 130 separate injuries on the 10-month-old before his fatal collapse on Christmas Day 2020, including 71 bruises, 57 broken bones, and fractures, as well as burns. Finley had fractures to his collarbones and thighs, and his pelvis had been broken in two places, possibly from sustained "kicking or stamping" with the injuries likened to that of a multi-storey fall.

The tot also had two burns on his left hand - one "from a hot, flat surface", the other probably "from a cigarette lighter flame". In a statement from a relative of one of the defendants, read by Mary Prior KC, they said that Finley had suffered "the most horrific abuse" and labelled his parents "monsters".

Finley had been taken into care immediately after his birth on February 15, 2020. Social services had become involved during Marsden's pregnancy due to concerns over cannabis use, domestic violence, and the state of the family home. It was concluded that Finley was at "significant risk of harm" if he stayed with his parents, with social services dismissing the option of Finley returning to his parents' full-time care as late as June of that year. But by September, social workers, while acknowledging that a gradual transition to full-time care would be needed, said that Boden and Marsden "have shown their ability to begin to make changes".

After he was returned to their care, Finley's parents "came up with a plan" to suggest he had Covid to stop social services from entering their property, Mary Prior KC said. A motivation for Finley's murder has never been established and came after months of Boden and Marsden working to show that they were capable of caring for their son.

Carla Scott and Dirk Howell

A mum and her boyfriend were jailed on June 15, 2023, after the woman's nine-year-old son, Alfie Steele, was killed in a "sinister" campaign of violence. The young boy was beaten and held down in a bath as a punishment at his home in Droitwich, Worcestershire, in February 2021, prior to his death.

Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearScott was jailed for 27 years (PA)
Sadistic parents who murdered their babies and were put behind bars in past yearHowell was sentenced to 32 years in prison (PA)

Mum Carla Scott was jailed for 27 years at Coventry Crown Court for child cruelty and manslaughter, while her fiance Dirk Howell was sentenced to 32 years for Alfie's murder. The pair subjected the boy to repeated assaults and would often force him into cold baths as part of a cruel regime of correction, even waking him at 3am and "marching him outside" and throwing water at him.

A jury found Scott not guilty of murdering Alfie, but she was ordered to serve six years for the child cruelty offences and a consecutive 21 years for manslaughter. During the trial, Prosecutor Michelle Heely KC claimed both defendants thought it was acceptable to hit Alfie with "belts or a slider, like a heavy-duty flip flop, and use other more sinister forms of punishment". She added that Alfie had 50 injuries all over his body, with only a handful likely to be due to normal childhood bumps and scrapes.

Courtney Pochin

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