A U.K. mom and her partner were sentenced to life in prison for murdering the woman’s 18-month-old son during what authorities termed a “night of violence” in 2020.
The Kent Police Department announced in a news release that Sian Hedges, 27, and her partner Jack Benham, 35, will spend a minimum of 19 years and 23 years in prison, respectively, for the murder of Alfie Phillips.
In court, prosecutors said the toddler had been subjected to “sustained assault” overnight on Nov. 28. 2020, and was found with 70 separate injuries.
These injuries included “internal bleeding, bruising and fractures to his chest, ribs, feet, arms and left leg.” He also had “facial injuries and bitemarks on his body,” and there was evidence that he “had been smothered” and a “weapon had been used against him,” according to the release.
“Hedges and Benham inflicted unimaginable suffering on Alfie during a night of violence. He should have been protected and loved by his mother, but instead lost his life in appalling circumstances,” said Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Kathleen Way.
On Nov. 29, 2020. Hedges and Benham called emergency services to their home and said the boy was unresponsive. They claimed that they had shared a bed with him overnight before they woke up at 11:30 a.m. and found him in that state. About an hour later, at 12:35 p.m., he was pronounced dead.
The doctors who treated the boy noticed that he had “multiple bruises and injuries” on his body, which prompted authorities to arrest the couple the same day. Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched an investigation and murder charges were brought against Hedges and Benham on Mar. 6, 2023.
The couple repeatedly denied harming the child. However, they admitted that they “had taken cocaine and drunk alcohol on the night of his murder.”
Investigators found that Alifie “had traces of cocaine in his system” — which they believed he passively inhaled — as well as cocaine and “traces of cannabis and alcohol.”
Additional evidence showed that Benham did not have “a cot or essential items needed to care for a young child” in his caravan, where they had lived. Blood was also found on the child’s sleepsuit and bedding, which was later confirmed to be the boy’s through DNA analysis.
Following a nine-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Hedges and Benham were both found guilty of murder on Nov. 30,2023, and were sentenced on Jan. 12.
“This was a harrowing case for all those involved including experienced officers who remained focused on the investigation and ensured evidence was recovered to ensure Alfie received some justice for the ending of his short life,” Way said.
“I would like to thank Alfie’s father and other family members who supported our investigation throughout and I hope these sentences offer them some closure,” she added.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.