Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Neighbour 'heard mum and partner doing something bad' to boy, 9, before he died

The neighbour of a couple accused of murdering a nine-year-old boy made a chilling 999 call to say: ‘They are doing something bad to their kid in the bath.’

Alfie Steele’s lifeless body was found with 50 different injuries at his ‘dishevelled’ family home in Droitwich, Worcester in February 2021.

His mum, Carla Scott, 35, and her partner, Dirk Howell, 41, are on trial for his murder. 

He died after he was allegedly subjected to a ‘cruel and sinister’ regime of punishment which included being whipped with belts and flip flops.

Around six months before his death, a harrowing call was made to police by neighbour Gemma Allcott to report ‘thrashing’ sounds coming from the house.

She told the call operator: ‘It sounds like my neighbours are doing something bad to their kid in the bath.

‘Like they are really hurting them.’

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The distressing audio clip was played to the jury at Coventry Crown Court earlier this month and recently released by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Miss Allcott said she made the emergency call, which was recorded at 8.39pm on August 3, 2020, after 15 minutes of hearing loud noises coming from next door.

She said: ‘It sounds like you can hear he’s being hit and held under the water or something and loads of thrashing around.

‘I hear lots of banging and it sounds like someone thrashing around in a bathtub.’

Miss Allcott added it was ‘concerning’ as she understood social services were involved with the family and the police had been before ‘a few times’.

She adds: ‘I can still hear banging… I just heard a big bang… I heard swearing… I heard “f****** something” but it just sounded threatening and unpleasant.

‘It sounds like a kid was really distressed and stuttering.’

Sergeant Samantha Bennett, of West Mercia Police, attended the house following the call, the court heard.

Sgt Bennett observed that Alfie’s mum had been annoyed they had attended, telling them she knew the neighbours had called the police on them.

After leaving, the police were called again by Miss Allcott after Scott went round to her house.

Miss Allcott had not answered the door to Scott telling police she did not want a confrontation.

In her evidence Scott told the court the noises could be attributed to playing in the bath when the bathroom floor was turned ‘into a swimming pool’.

Scott said it had been Howell’s idea to go round and confront the neighbours.

She added she had initially lied to police that she went round to her neighbour’s home as she ‘didn’t want to get into trouble’.

The court has previously heard how punishments Alfie suffered allegedly included ‘dunking’ him ‘in cold baths while naked’, and forcing him to ‘stand outside, in the middle of the night and have cold water’ thrown over him.

Alfie’s injuries – said to have included broken skin on his face caused by ‘direct pressure’ – left him ‘susceptible to drowning while unconscious’.

Jurors were told he was discovered after his mum called 999 claiming her son had ‘fallen asleep in the bath’, ‘gone under the surface’ and ‘was not breathing’.

When police officers arrived at the scene, Scott added that the boy had previously ‘hit his head’.

Howell, of Newtown, Birmingham, previously admitted child cruelty against other children but denies murder, manslaughter, cruelty or causing or allowing the death of Alfie.

Scott denies murder, manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of Alfie and child cruelty offences against Alfie and other children.

The trial continues.

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