Mum and boyfriend jailed over girl's brutal murder

time:2023-06-09 05:24:48source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center8

A man who murdered a two-year-old girl in a "brutal" assault in her family home has been jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 28 years.

Kyle Bevan, 31, inflicted "catastrophic" brain injuries on toddler Lola James in July 2020.

Lola's mother Sinead James, 30, was sentenced to six years for causing or allowing her daughter's death at her home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

Sentencing took place at Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Martin Griffiths told the court Lola died following a "sustained, deliberate and very violent attack" at the hands of Bevan.

He added: "I am sure that Kyle Bevan did this as an exercise of power. An assertion of superiority over the only person he could feel superior to - a helpless child.

"He has no remorse at all, even now. At the time, he did not even simulate sadness about Lola's injuries and critical condition when everyone around him was distraught."

Addressing the court, the judge said that James "prioritised the relationship with Kyle Bevan over concern for her children".

Lola was attacked on the night between 16 and 17 July 2020 while she was in Bevan's care.

She was left with 101 surface injuries on her body and suffered a "catastrophic" brain trauma.

Bevan, of Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, claimed Lola's injuries had been caused by a fall down the stairs, after the family's dog pushed her.

But Mr Justice Griffiths said Bevan "started to hurt Lola at midnight and carried on until she was unconscious at 6.30am".

She died in hospital in Cardiff on 21 July 2020.

The judge detailed how, in the months before Lola's death, she sustained a number of injuries while in Bevan's care.

He called Lola's death "the culmination of several months of physical child abuse".

In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Lola's father Daniel Thomas said: "Lola was as bright as the golden sun. She was beautiful, charming and cheeky. Her laugh would fill the room with pure joy."

"Even as a toddler Lola has a passion for the outdoors and everything out there - the birds, bees and butterflies.

"As a parent, all I could hope for was for her to continue to grow with happiness and health. With the courage in her heart to know she could be anything and do anything she wanted. This will never be, now."

Mr Thomas said Lola "won't have another birthday, or ride a bike, or listen to her favourite story".

"She won't sing her favourite songs, and I will never get to meet my daughter as a teenager or a woman.

"All I have left are memories of a beautiful baby and dreams of the child she can never become."

While he was grateful that Bevan and James had been jailed for Lola's "cruel, defenceless murder", he said it would not bring him any "joy".

"As any parent can imagine, as any human can imagine, it will never come close to being enough," he said.

"Lola's little life was filled with filth and chaos at the hands of her mother, who couldn't even provide her with basic safety in her own home.

"The guilt I feel lives inside me and will never leave, as the memory of Lola lying in a hospital bed fighting to stay alive will remain with me, always."

Lola's grandmother, Nicola James, spoke directly to Bevan as she read her victim impact statement.

Addressing the court while her daughter wept, she told him: "Look at me, Kyle."

She said she was always thinking of Lola, and would never come to terms with the crime.

The grandmother said she "constantly" blamed herself.

She said: "Lola was my cheeky monkey. If there was any mischief to be done in the house, she would be the one that was involved.

"If I said no to something, she would do it anyway."

She described Lola as "independent" and remembered eating fruit and dancing in the garden with her, as well as searching for butterflies.

"She was happiest when she was caked in mud, getting into her shorts and wellies," she said.

"She grew into a charming, smiley, bubbly, mischievous little girl who was such a character.

"To the outside world she may have appeared shy, but with the ones she loved she was outgoing and cheeky."

During the trial, jurors heard Bevan and James met on Facebook in February 2020, with Bevan moving into the family home just a few days later.

The toddler's death came months after Bevan, a prolific drug user, moved into the family home in Haverfordwest.

Lola had previously suffered a series of injuries in the months leading up to her death including a bloodied nose, a grazed chin and a split lip.

All of these were covered up by Bevan with a string of excuses, but during the trial the jury ruled they should have made James realise that Bevan was a threat to Lola.

At trial, the court heard a multi-agency referral had been made on behalf of James in January 2020 after a reported domestic violence incident with her former partner at her home.

No visits were made to the address after February 10, the same month Bevan moved into her property.

More than a month later the UK Government triggered the first country-wide Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Giving evidence, James said Bevan who was a regular user of amphetamines, Xanax, Valium and cannabis.

She described previous violent incidents, such as when he used a hammer to smash up the home.

John Griffiths, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Bevan described himself as Lola's "stepfather" but added his actions were "anything but paternal".

"He had inflicted injuries on Lola in the past, but this time his aggression led to him murdering a defenceless child in his care," he added.

"Lola should have been safe in her own home and surrounded by people that she could trust.

"But instead, her mother Sinead James allowed a violent and destructive man into their lives and failed in her duty to protect Lola from harm. "

Mr Griffiths said James was "well aware" that Bevan was a danger, but she "willingly chose to keep him in her life".

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