Earlier today, Carla Scott and Dirk Howell were sentenced for the death of Alfie Steele.

Following the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Leighton Harding, said:

“Alfie Steele suffered the most cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of his mother Carla Scott and her partner Dirk Howell.

“During the trial, the Jury heard evidence of how Alfie was repeatedly beaten and ‘dunked’ in cold baths and had multiple injuries when he was found.  Scott and Howell maintained they did not know what had happened to Alfie to cause his death and denied any responsibility.  The jury carefully considered the evidence put before them and rejected their accounts, determining that they were both responsible for inflicting the physical violence that caused his death.

“In finding Howell guilty of murder and Scott guilty of manslaughter, today, they faced the consequences of their actions with Howell sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum custodial term of 32 years and Scott sentenced to 27 years imprisonment with a minimum custodial term of 17 years.

“I am pleased that justice has been done for Alfie, and our thoughts remain with his family, friends and all who knew and loved him.     

“The jury had heard evidence of a culture of abuse, cruelty and torture of Alfie by Scott and Howell, which amounted to repeated beatings with a belt causing extensive 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 grounded for excessive periods, made to stand for hours inside and outside his home, have food removed or withheld from him, banished to his room, and repeatedly forced into a bath of cold water with his head held under.

“Alfie should have expected the unconditional love and protection from Scott, yet she deliberately neglected his needs, choosing to prioritise her own needs and relationship with Howell. The lies they told to children’s services, school and police was to protect themselves and prevent the abuse they were inflicting on Alfie being discovered. Their lies and denials of any wrongdoing continued throughout the investigation and the trial.  At no stage has either of them shown any remorse or acceptance of responsibility for their actions.

“The custodial sentences passed on Howell and Scott are a clear reflection of the abhorrent physical and emotional abuse they both inflicted upon Alfie; and while they will not undo the dreadful abuse he suffered, it does mean that they will now face the consequences of their sickening actions.

“We are aware that the family were known to West Mercia Police and other agencies prior to Alfie’s death. The jury heard evidence of 999 calls from neighbours and reports from other people regarding concerns over Scott and Howell’s conduct and treatment of Alfie, which led to Police and other agencies having contact and involvement with the family in the months before Alfie’s death.

“I recognise the concerns and questions this raises.  I can provide assurance that West Mercia Police is committed to reviewing its involvement with the family and engagement with other agencies through a Child Safeguarding Practice Review commissioned by Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership.

“We are committed to learning lessons from Alfie’s tragic death and will fully engage with the review.  An independent reviewer has already been appointed and will continue the review at pace now that the criminal case has ended. 

“Once completed, the author will publish their report, therefore until that time I would not wish to speculate on its potential findings.”