Guilty couple’s horrifying abuse led to 9-year-old’s bathtub death

A couple has been found guilty in the tragic death of a nine-year-old boy, Alfie Steele, who suffered months of abuse before being killed in a bathtub in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The boy’s mother’s partner, Dirk Howell, 41 years old, was convicted of murder, while the mother, Carla Scott, 35 years old, was found guilty of manslaughter but cleared of murder charges. The judge informed the jurors that they would not have to serve on a jury again following their deliberation of the harrowing case.

During the trial, the court heard of the appalling discipline regime Alfie endured, which included beatings, being forced to stand outside, and being submerged headfirst into cold baths. The young boy had over 50 injuries at the time of his death. The family was known to social services, and neighbours had made multiple calls to the police due to concerns about Alfie’s treatment. A safeguarding review will now investigate what more could have been done to save the child.

Emergency services were called to the Vashon Drive residence on February 18 around 2:30pm, but paramedics were unable to revive Alfie. Although the exact cause of death could not be determined, evidence suggested that the boy died after being submerged in a cold bath. Scott claimed that Alfie had fallen asleep in a warm bath, but his injuries and low body temperature of 23C (73F) contradicted her story.

The court heard that Scott began a relationship with Howell in 2019, and his discipline methods escalated in 2020 during the Covid pandemic lockdown. Neighbours made distressing 999 calls attempting to raise the alarm before Alfie’s death. Some reported hearing the boy’s screams as he was forced into cold baths, while others saw him standing outside at night, motionless, as Howell berated him. Howell admitted to four counts of child cruelty, but Scott consistently maintained her innocence. In addition to manslaughter, the jury found her guilty of child cruelty. Scott was visibly emotional as she was led to the cells, while Howell showed no signs of emotion. The sentencing for both individuals is set to take place on Thursday.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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