Monster mum and boyfriend found guilty of killing boy, 9, with “cruel and sinister” punishments
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Carla Scott, 35, and her partner, Dirk Howell, 41, killed Alfie Steele after months of abuse during lockdown at his home in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The defenceless schoolboy’s lifeless body was pulled from a bath having suffered more than 50 injuries at the hands of the pair in February 2021.
A court heard Alfie had been tortured and beaten to death after being subjected to a "cruel and sinister" regime of punishments. The brutal discipline techniques included Alfie being whipped with belts and flip flops as well as being "dunked" in cold baths.
He was also made to stand outside at night and have water thrown over him. The "physical and psychological" abuse which led to his murder was able to continue despite Alfie being under a social services protection plan, the court heard.
The court heard how the couple would hold Alfie under cold water in the bath for a prolonged amount of time whenever they believed he was lying.Medical experts said bruises suggested he had been "manhandled" and others marks on his buttocks were from being kicked by an adult who "had lost control."
Michelle Heeley KC said Alfie died after being "beaten and deliberately put in a cold bath" and he had been “made to endure a life that no child should lead”. She added: "Alfie had not simply fallen asleep in a comfortable bath.
“He had been deliberately and repeatedly assaulted, beaten, and put into and held under a cold bath as a punishment. That unlawful course of conduct, that unnecessary punishment, was carried out jointly by Carla Scott and Dirk Howell. It was their actions that led to his death.”
Jurors sitting on the trial were played harrowing footage during the case - including of Alfie screaming and begging to be let in after being locked outside his house. The chilling clip captured Alfie crying for help repeatedly shouting: "Let me in, let me in" 18 months before he was found dead in the bath.
Further disturbing footage included a 999 call from neighbour Gemma Allcott who reported: "It sounds like my neighbours are doing something bad to their kid in the bath. Like they are really hurting them."
The 999 call Scott made to request an ambulance at 2.30pm on February 18, 2021 was also played to the court. She can be heard telling operators she could "feel a rattle" on her son’s chest and added: "He’s not breathing, but he keeps making noises."When the call handler asks "What noises?" Scott replies: "Lots of gargling noises." Police arrived at the property to find Alfie not breathing and cold to the touch just six minutes after Scott made the call.
Meanwhile Howell fled the house and police body-cam footage captured him being arrested at Droitwich Railway Station trying to board a train. Alfie was later pronounced dead at Worcester Royal hospital and his injuries were later found to have been caused by "direct pressure” which left him "susceptible to drowning whilst unconscious”.
Neighbours raised concerns with the local authorities “within a short period of time of these two getting together”. Alfie had been under a social services protection plan and legal discussions had taken place on whether to remove him from Scott’s care.
Legal discussions had also been ongoing to remove him from the house but it proved too late. On Tuesday (June 13) Dirk Howell, who has spent more than half of his life in prison, was found guilty of murder following a six week trial at Coventry Crown Court.
Carla Scott was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter. Both defendants will be sentenced on Thursday (June 15).