A mother and her former partner will be sentenced today for the murder of her 18-month-old son in a night of “violent discipline” in a caravan home in Kent.
Alfie Phillips suffered 70 injuries to his body at the hands of his mother Sian Hedges and her ex-boyfriend Jack Benham, fuelled by whisky and cocaine in Benham’s caravan in Hernhill, Kent, in November 2020.
The little boy died with a “myriad of bruises”, broken ribs, arms and leg, and traces of cocaine in his body, on November 28 2020.
Hedges, 27, and Benham, 35, will face life imprisonment after being found guilty of Alfie’s murder after a nine-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
Jurors took nearly 10 hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.
During the trial, Alfie was described as “good as gold” and “lively” by his father, Sam Phillips, who said there was “never a dull moment” with him and that he was always playing and laughing.
The court heard Benham admit that he and Hedges were drug addicts who would regularly take drugs around her son.
They began their relationship in about September 2020 after meeting at a mutual friend’s house where they would buy drugs.
On the night before Alfie died, Benham said Hedges went to buy drugs from their friend and repay her £400 debt, and also get mixers and drinks for their evening together in the caravan.
The former Army man said the pair were drinking, chatting and watching YouTube videos that evening as “just normal”.
But the prosecution said this was the time Alfie must have been violently assaulted.
Prosecutor Jennifer Knight KC said: “It was all a lie, the truth is you and Sian were both present and involved in that assault, you and Sian both killed Alfie.”
The toddler was discovered blue and floppy on the morning of November 28 2020, and paramedics said it was “immediately apparent” to them that Alfie had been dead for some time.
Jurors heard that Benham’s mother tried to perform CPR on him after Benham came out of the caravan, where he lived in his parents’ garden, carrying Alfie.
Joan Benham recalled her son pleading: “Mum, do something, he’s not breathing, mum do something.”
The court also heard about other injuries Alfie had sustained in the months before his death, and explanations for them, such as a cut under Alfie’s eye from playing with keys, and his fingers being caught in the dog gate in Benham’s parents’ home.
In text messages sent in the weeks before his death, Benham said that as a “joke” Hedges should bite the little boy hard, after she messaged: “Little shit bit my arm this morning, f****** hurt.”
Hedges, of Yelverton, Devon, and Benham, of Hernhill, Kent, denied harming Alfie.
Reacting to the verdict on November 30, Kent Police’s senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Kath Way said: “Alfie should have been protected and loved by his mum, instead Hedges and Benham inflicted unimaginable suffering on him during a sustained and lengthy night of violence.”
“Alfie would have been four now and would have recently started school. Instead, his life was cruelly taken away by those he should have been able to trust the most.”
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