A woman and her partner have been found guilty of the death of her young son.
Alfie Steele was just nine years old when he was found lifeless in the bath of his home in Vashon Drive in February 2021.
During a six-week trial at Coventry Crown Court the jury heard how Alfie, who was repeatedly beaten and dunked in cold baths, had multiple injuries when he was found.
Today, Dirk Howell, 41, of Princip Street, was found guilty of murder, Carla Scott 35, also of Vashon Drive was found guilty of manslaughter. Scott was also found guilty of four counts of child cruelty.
Howell had previously pleaded guilty to child cruelty.
After the verdict, the Senior Investigating Officer who led the case, Detective Chief Inspector Leighton Harding, said:
“Today the case has concluded at court with Dirk Howell being found guilty of Alfie’s murder and Carla Scott found guilty of manslaughter.
“I am pleased that justice has been done today for Alfie and our thoughts remain with his family, who have shown incredible strength and dignity throughout the investigation and trial.
“Alfie suffered the most horrifying physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Scott and Howell. It is unimaginable to consider the fear and distress Alfie must have felt during the events that led to his collapse and death in his home on the morning of 18th February 2021. The physical violence he suffered at the hands of Scott and Howell, which involved being forced into a cold bath and his head held under water, caused his death.
“The court heard evidence of a culture of excessive punishment of Alfie by Scott and Howell. Punishment amounted to beating Alfie with a belt and a slider until he was black and blue with bruising. He was often woken in the early hours of the morning and made to stand outside where Scott and Howell threw jugs of cold water over him.
“He was often grounded for excessive periods, made to stand for hours inside and outside his home, food removed from him, banished to his room, repeatedly forced into a bath of cold water and his head held under.
“The conduct of Scott and Howell was nothing less than serious physical and emotional abuse, inflicting the most cruel and inhumane treatment of Alfie.
“Alfie should have expected unconditional love and protection of Scott, yet she deliberately neglected his needs, choosing to prioritise her own needs and relationship with Howell, knowing the cruel treatment he was inflicting upon Alfie.
“Scott and Howell did nothing to protect Alfie and inflicted or permitted the torrent of physical and emotional abuse to continue time and time again.
“Both continued to lie to social services and police to protect themselves from their abuse being discovered, and even confronted and threatened neighbours and members of the public who reported concerns over their treatment of Alfie. At no stage has either of them shown any remorse or acceptance of responsibility for their actions.
“Today’s verdict will never undo the dreadful abuse Alfie suffered but it will mean those responsible for inflicting such terror and pain will face the consequences of their sickening actions.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their support and all the witnesses who gave evidence in the trial, which was crucial to securing the convictions.
“I would like also to thank the investigation team, crown prosecution service and prosecution counsel who have worked tirelessly on this case to get justice for Alfie.”
Following the verdict, Alfie’s grandad, Paul Scott, paid tribute to a precious grandson who was a treasure to be around.
“Our precious grandson Alfie was a charming, funny and inquisitive young boy whose kindness and cheeky smile was enough to melt your heart.
“He had a unique personality that made him a treasure to be around, whether it was his comical phrases or his quirky dance moves, he knew how to make you laugh and cry joyous tears.
“It fills us with immense sadness that we will never be able to see that same cheeky smile again.
“Losing Alfie has left a massive void in our lives, to think that we will never be able to hug him and watch him grow into an accomplished young man causes much anguish.
“We miss him so much.”