…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
The concerns of neighbors had been mounting for several months prior to the tragic death of nine-year-old Alfie Steele at the hands of his mother and her partner, both of whom have now been convicted in relation to his demise.
Alfie’s lifeless body was discovered submerged in a bathtub in Droitwich, Worcestershire, revealing extensive injuries across his body.
The convictions have prompted a safeguarding review to investigate the circumstances leading up to this devastating incident.
Neighbor’s Disturbing 999 Call:
A neighbor had made a distressing 999 call six months prior to Alfie’s death, expressing worry about the treatment he was receiving from his parents in the bath.The caller described hearing sounds of violence, including hitting and submerging, and expressed concern due to the involvement of social services and previous police visits.
This call, along with additional audio evidence from another emergency call, shed light on the disturbing events unfolding within the household.
Witnessed Abuse and Neglect:
Further evidence presented to the jury included a video recorded by a neighbor in 2019, capturing Alfie’s desperate pleas to be allowed back into his own home for an extended period.
Despite a social services plan prohibiting Dirk Howell from staying overnight to safeguard Alfie, Carla Scott repeatedly violated this rule by allowing Howell to stay over regularly.
Neighbors also observed Howell verbally abusing Alfie in public while Scott stood by passively.
According to the prosecution, Alfie suffered repeated acts of violence, beatings, and forced immersion in cold water as part of a cruel and “sinister” regime implemented by Scott and Howell.
Their actions amounted to a form of punishment that ultimately resulted in Alfie’s tragic death.
Following Alfie’s death, a multi-agency review is now underway to examine the safeguarding measures in place for the child.
Stephen Eccleston, independent chair of Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership, expressed shock and sorrow over Alfie’s demise and extended condolences to his family.
The completion of the trial has prompted the request for an independent reviewer to conclude the review, with the report expected to be published later this year.
Verdict and Future Sentencing:
After 10 hours and 13 minutes of deliberation, Scott was found guilty of manslaughter by a majority verdict, while Howell was unanimously convicted of murder.
Scott was also found guilty of four counts of child cruelty, while Howell had previously admitted to child cruelty charges.
Both defendants were remanded into custody and are scheduled to be sentenced at 11 am on Thursday.
The NSPCC, in response to the tragic circumstances surrounding Alfie’s death, emphasized the heartbreak caused by the cruel punishment inflicted on him by Dirk Howell and Carla Scott.
They called for a comprehensive review of the circumstances leading up to Alfie’s demise to determine if more could have been done by professionals to protect him, in hopes of preventing similar tragedies in the future.
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