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Murder trial told Alfie Phillips had 70 separate injuries at time of death after night in caravan near Faversham with mum Sian Hedges and her boyfriend Jack Benham

An 18-month-old boy allegedly murdered by his mum and her boyfriend had sustained 70 separate injuries and had traces of cocaine in his body, a court has been told.

The jury in the trial of Sian Hedges and Jack Benham heard today how toddler Alfie Phillips died after spending a night with the pair in a caravan near Faversham in November 2020.

Alfie Phillips died from multiple injuries aged just 18 months
Alfie Phillips died from multiple injuries aged just 18 months

Hedges, 27, and Benham, 35, are alleged to have subjected the boy to a sustained assault or series of attacks, resulting in his death.

The prosecution opened its case this morning, telling how Alfie had been seen “well and without injuries” on the evening of November 27, 2020, by members of Benham’s family.

Jennifer Knight KC said he was taken back to a caravan owned by Benham in Hernhill, and was not seen by anyone other than Benham and Hedges until shortly before 11.30am the following day.

Between 2.15am and 2.20am that morning, Hedges was seen getting out of a car.

The prosecutor said at just before 11.30am “Benham was seen carrying Alfie in his arms” with the toddler “described as blue and floppy and he was not breathing”.

Jack Benham, of Highstreet Road, Hernhill, has denied murdering one-year-old boy Alfie Phillips
Jack Benham, of Highstreet Road, Hernhill, has denied murdering one-year-old boy Alfie Phillips

Benham's mother, Joan Benham, started CPR and a critical-care paramedic arrived at the scene at 11.39am after a 999 call was made.

"It was immediately apparent to them that Alfie had been dead for some time," said Ms Knight.

“[The paramedic] noticed rigor mortis, hypostasis and post-mortem staining.

"Alfie's arm was above his head. He also noticed bruises all over his face and behind the ear.

"Benham came into the room and said Alfie had been grumpy, so they took him into bed with them and when they woke [they found] Alfie trapped under his legs, and they couldn't wake him.”

Alfie was rushed to the QEQM Hospital in Margate, where he was pronounced dead at 12.35pm.

A pathologist would later determine he had sustained 31 injuries to his head and neck, 11 to his arms, 17 to his legs and 11 to his torso.

The prosecutor said: "A skeletal survey and post-mortem examinations revealed that Alfie had multiple injuries and fractures to several ribs and his sternum, both arms, his left and right big toe.”

She alleged: "It is clear that Alfie was deliberately injured on more than one occasion, culminating in an assault perpetrated during the night that led to his death.”

Meanwhile, an investigation into Alfie's blood and urine found “low concentrations of cocaine and a metabolite of cocaine”, the jury was told.

The prosecutor added: "These levels would not have arisen from ingestion of a large quantity of cocaine prior to death.”

A forensic scientist said "it could have arisen from some form of external contact with cocaine prior to death. Such concentrations in urine could also have arisen from passive inhalation of smoke from crack cocaine in a closed environment."

The expert could not say whether Alfie would have been experiencing significant effects from cocaine at the time of his death "but she considered it a possibility".

The prosecutor added that Benham and Hedges "had used cocaine in the day or so before and were cannabis users”.

Ms Knight said: "In his final conclusion the pathologist expressed no doubt that Alfie came upon his death by unnatural means as a result of actions from another to others.

"Cocaine may have contributed to the final pathological sequence leading to death. The final cause of death is not clear.”

Benham told police that on the night of November 27 he and Hedges drank whisky and coke, "getting drunk, but not too drunk".

He said when he woke up the following morning he bit Alfie to get a response.

The prosecutor told the jury: "Alfie was subjected to a sustained assault or series of assaults during the night.

"Those assaults left him with serious injuries that ultimately caused his death during that night.

"They both agreed in meting out aggressive, violent discipline to Alfie, which resulted in his death."

The court was told Hedges grew up in both Chartham, near Canterbury, and Whitstable.

She left school at 16 and started working at the Alberta Caravan Park in Seasalter before moving to a larger site at Swalecliffe.

In 2017, when she was 21, she met Sam Phillips and the two moved into a caravan on-site.

Ms Knight explained: "Their relationship was a pretty volatile one.

“They rowed frequently and, following an argument that caused a disturbance at the caravan park, they were asked to move.

"Mr Phillips’ mother bought them another caravan at Benacre Riding Stables, near Whitstable, and they moved there in 2018."

“On October 15, Hedges and Benham exchanged messages in which she said ‘little s**t bit my arm this morning, f***** hurt'...”

Hedges became pregnant in September and Alfie was born on May 26, 2019, at Margate’s QEQM Hospital.

The new mum had "considered adoption" in the latter stages of the pregnancy, but decided to keep the baby, the jury was told.

The prosecutor added: "[Alfie] was a normal, healthy baby who grew and thrived during the early months of his life."

In 2020, Benham was living with his parents in Highstreet Road, Hernhill, near Faversham, after the breakdown of a relationship.

The prosecutor added: "By September Sam Phillips suspected Sian was seeing someone else.

“He knew that she had met a man, who he thought was called Jack Bennett (sic).”

The prosecutor said: "On October 15, Hedges and Benham exchanged messages in which she said ‘little s**t bit my arm this morning, f***** hurt'.

"Benham responded by suggesting she should bite him back, but not as hard."

The court heard that on September 23 that same year Hedges took Alfie to the Estuary View Medical Centre, where staff noted he had a cut under his eye.

The couple also exchanged messages about the baby "crying all night", the jury was told.

Alfie's father, Sam Phillips, said by November that the baby "looked tired and pasty".

By this point, Hedges had left Sam, "taking all of her belongings". She then moved into Benham's caravan in Uplands Cottages, where she stayed "five or six nights a week".

The jury heard family members then noticed the baby had bruises and that Hedges said Alfie was "clumsy".

Benham, of Highstreet Road, Hernhill, and Hedges, of Fillace Park, Yelverton, Devon, deny murder and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

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