The heartbroken dad of a toddler murdered by his own mum and her boyfriend says the pair should spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Sian Hedges and Jack Benham were convicted on Friday of killing 18-month-old Alfie Phillips in a “wicked and torturous” attack in a caravan in Hernhill, near Faversham.
Now, Alfie’s father, Sam Phillips, has called for them to be handed whole-life sentences, branding his ex a “narcissistic child killer” who cried “crocodile tears” during a harrowing trial lasting almost two months.
In a revealing interview, he has told how the 27-year-old attempted to manipulate the jury into believing her lies, and of his relief that justice has now been served.
But he also says there was no sign Hedges was capable of such an evil act before she met the man who would join her in the dock for ending Alfie’s life in November 2020.
“She was a good mum before she met Jack,” he said.
“I thought we had a great family life, but then she met Jack and was cheating on me with him.
“Alfie was always fed, clothed and happy. He was such a lovely little boy - he didn’t deserve what happened to him.
“Sian’s a child killer, plain and simple. They’re the worst people out there, and she’s a sick person.
“She was a manipulative liar, and the scary thing is how clever she is – it was proved in court.
“She could play three different people if she wanted; she was a narcissist who could keep her lies very organised.
“There’s been no remorse; there were just crocodile tears in the court and the only people who know what happened are those two and our little boy, Alfie.”
Hedges and Benham, 35, left Alfie with 70 visible injuries and multiple broken bones after subjecting him to a sustained and brutal assault inside a caravan strewn with empty bottles of alcohol.
Though both killers blamed each other, a jury at Maidstone Crown Court saw through their lies and returned two guilty verdicts on Friday afternoon.
Mr Phillips, a father-of-two from Chatham, says he suspected something sinister had happened to his son after being told the devastating news he had died.
“When I finally heard, I knew straight away they’d done something to that little boy,” he said.
“They were both in that little caravan when that child was beaten so there’s no way they weren’t both in on it.
“You’re going to be right next to it, you’ll hear it; there’s no way you can’t know what was going on, but I don’t think they’ll ever admit it – they’ll never tell the truth.
“Alfie should have felt safe with his mum but she dragged him around knowing what Jack was like. She chose to bring him into the environment and she knew Jack was an unstable drug addict.”
Mr Phillips and Hedges first met in a pub in 2017 and enjoyed a friendship before starting a romantic relationship.
Alfie was born in May 2019, with Hedges deciding to keep him after considering both abortion and adoption during her pregnancy.
The youngster enjoyed a settled start to life, with paediatricians finding him to be a happy, healthy baby.
But the tumultuous relationship of his parents broke down after Hedges starting cheating on Mr Phillips with Benham in the summer of 2020.
Mr Phillips admits he had his suspicions but struggled to pinpoint exactly what was going on, inadvertently allowing Benham access to Alfie.
Following their break-up, Hedges moved her possessions out of Mr Phillips’ home on November 10, 2020 – with Alfie murdered little more than two weeks later on the night of November 27.
The 32-year-old father says Hedges isolated him from his son in the weeks after they split, limiting his ability to see Alfie and spot any warning signs.
Hedges went as far as telling hospital staff Mr Phillips was no longer in the picture, meaning he was not informed of his son’s death until “quite some time after”.
Speaking with his new partner, Sarah Merritt, 39, at his side, he said: “I feel relieved; a lot of pressure has been taken off and we’ve been given justice for our little boy, who didn’t deserve this.”
“Nobody should have to go through this – I had no idea Sian would turn into this narcissistic, child killer.
“We’re incredibly grateful it’s not rolling over into next year; every year since it’s happened there’s been something.
“We have to wait 16 months just for the funeral so to be able to go into next year with a fresh start and those two behind bars is the result we wanted.”
Ms Merritt, herself a mother-of-two, added: “If I was charged with murdering my own child but I hadn’t done it there’s no way you’d just sit there and try to protect your boyfriend.
“We need to see them get locked up for good. What they’ve done to that little boy, they shouldn’t be allowed to come out and live their lives.”
Ms Merritt says she sat through the majority of the court proceedings, partly to allow Mr Phillips to work as a roofer but also to protect the father from hearing the horrific details.
“I don’t think Sam would have handled it well - some of what happened was just awful,” she said.
“We can see why things have taken so long and we are incredibly grateful to the police for their work – now we can understand why things were so drawn out.”
Hedges and Benham are set to be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on December 19.
Mr Phillips hopes it will bring some sort of closure to those who loved his son.
“Alfie never even had a proper Christmas,” he said.
“He had one birthday and would have only been six months at his first Christmas.
“[Seeing them sentenced] is never going to bring him back and we still don’t know what actually happened or why, but we can’t dwell on that now.”