Stepfather who murdered two-year-old Lola James jailed for life
A stepfather who murdered a two-year-old girl while her mother lay asleep upstairs has been jailed for life.
Kyle Bevan, 31, inflicted “catastrophic” brain injuries on Lola James in the early hours of July 17 2020. She died in hospital four days later.
On Tuesday, Bevan was jailed for life at Swansea Crown Court with a minimum term of 28 years for her murder.
The toddler’s death came months after Bevan, a prolific drug user, moved into the family home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire within days of connecting with Lola’s mother Sinead James on Facebook.
During those five months Lola suffered a number of serious injuries while in Bevan’s care, including a black eye and bloody nose, and her murder was seen by investigators as the culmination of escalating violence towards her at the hands of Bevan.
Earlier this month, a jury at the same court found Bevan guilty of killing Lola despite him denying harming her.
He claimed during the four-week trial that her injuries had been caused by the family dog who he said had pushed her down the stairs.
However, medical experts said the trauma suffered by Lola was similar to that seen in car crash victims and was more likely the result of abuse such as punching, slapping and shaking than an accidental fall down carpeted stairs.
The court heard Lola had 101 scratches and bruises to her body and head, extensive damage to both her eyes and severe injuries to her brain.
One of the medical experts who examined Lola said she was “the most battered and bruised child” she had ever seen during her long career.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Deborah Stalker also told the trial she believed some of Lola’s injuries were caused by weapons, although none were identified at the scene.
Lola’s mother was found guilty of causing or allowing her daughter’s death and jailed for six years at a hearing on Tuesday.
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, refused to give her his date of birth so she could make a Clare’s Law application – which allows police to disclose a partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.
She described previous violent incidents, such as when he used a hammer to smash up the home.
Police accepted the 30-year-old had been asleep when Bevan carried out the vicious attack on her daughter due to inactivity on her mobile phone.
James said the only thing she heard was “a bang and a scream” coming from Lola’s bedroom just after midnight.
She said she ran into the room to find her daughter sitting on Bevan’s lap with no visible injuries.
She described how Bevan reassured her, and said “I’ve got this”, before she went back to bed.
Evidence showed that Bevan spent the final hours of Lola’s life trying to cover his tracks instead of calling for an ambulance.
Internet searches made on his phone at around 6.30am included: “Two year old just taken a bang to the head, gone all limp and snoring”.
But he did not ask his mother to phone 999 or wake James up until almost an hour later at 7.30am.
Investigators attending the home found it to be dirty, messy and cluttered but noticed the bath appeared “spotless, as if it had recently been cleaned”, Caroline Rees KC, prosecuting, told the jury.
Bevan is believed to have cleaned the bath after putting Lola in it, either to revive her or to clean her after the assault.
A child’s wet, vomit and blood-stained grey Frozen onesie which she is believed to have been wearing when she was attacked was later found in the corner of the living room.
Paramedics arrived to find Lola wet and in clean clothes.
The jury were also shown photographs Bevan had taken on his phone of marks on Lola’s back and extensive swelling and bruising to her head, eyes and lips.
A disturbing video Bevan sent to his mother Alison showed him picking up Lola’s limp body, attempting to stand her on her feet before letting her fall to the floor – telling the camera: “She’s gone. She’s gone.”
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