Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Mother and ex-boyfriend guilty of the murder of her toddler son in caravan

Alfie Phillips died with a ‘myriad of bruises’ on his body (Kent Police/PA)
Alfie Phillips died with a ‘myriad of bruises’ on his body (Kent Police/PA)

The mother of an 18-month-old boy and her former partner have been found guilty of his murder after a night of “violent discipline” where he suffered 70 injuries to his body.

Alfie Phillips was beaten to death and smothered in an overnight attack by the pair fuelled by whisky and cocaine, and died with a “myriad of bruises”, broken ribs, arms and leg, and traces of cocaine in his body.

Following a nine-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Sian Hedges, 27, and Jack Benham, 35, will face life imprisonment for his murder, which took place in Benham’s caravan in Hernhill, near Faversham, Kent.

The boy 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 took nearly 10 hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict for the murder of Alfie.

Prosecutor Jennifer Knight KC had told jurors: “It is clear that he had been deliberately injured on more than one occasion, culminating in an assault perpetrated on him during the night of 27 to 28 November 2020 that led to his death.”

She added: “Jack Benham and Sian Hedges were in the caravan together throughout the night.

“Had either defendant not been joining in with the assaults, that defendant who was not part of it would have stopped the attack and removed Alfie Phillips from the caravan, and from the presence of the other who was carrying out these attacks.

Alfie Phillips death
Alfie Phillips on the night before he died (Handout/PA)

“The fact that this did not happen can only be because both defendants agreed that the assaults should take place … they both agreed in meting out some sort of aggressive, violent discipline to Alfie that night which resulted in his death.”

During the trial, both defendants denied harming Alfie.

The court heard Benham, who is not Alfie’s father, said he woke up with the toddler under his leg in bed and he thought he had suffocated him.

The court had heard from Benham how he and Hedges began their relationship around September 2020 through meeting regularly at the same friend’s house where they would buy drugs.

Jurors had heard about older injuries Alfie sustained in the months before his death and their 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.

Alfie was described as “good as gold” and “lively” by his father, Sam Phillips, adding there was “never a dull moment” with the toddler, who he said was always playing and laughing.

Sian Hedges and Jack Benham were both convicted of the murder of Alfie Phillips (Kent Police/PA)

On the night before Alfie died, Benham 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.

Ms Knight 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.”

Benham, of Hernhill, Kent, and Hedges, of Yelverton, Devon, will be sentenced on December 19.

Reacting to the verdict, Kent Police’s senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Kath Way, said: “Today’s verdict will not bring Alfie back, but it does mean that Hedges and Benham lose their right to freedom and life as they know it.

“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.”

She added that the pair refused to admit what they had done and instead subjected Alfie’s family to a trial where details of “horrendous abuse” were detailed.

“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.”

An NSPCC spokesperson also commenting on “heart-breaking” case said the cruelty inflicted on Alfie is “devastating”.

They added: “We know that very young children are particularly vulnerable to abuse because they are completely reliant on the adults around them for care and protection.

“It is so important that anyone who is worried about a child’s safety speaks out about their concerns. People can contact the local authority, the police or the NSPCC Helpline.”