Iraq war veteran is guilty of murder after stabbing his girlfriend 70 times


An Iraq war veteran has been found guilty of stabbing a nurse and Britain’s Got Talent finalist to death.

Desmond Sylva, 41, stabbed his on-off girlfriend Simonne Kerr, 31, almost 70 times when she was in his bed in Grayshott Avenue, near Clapham Junction.

The ex-soldier attacked her with a 20cm kitchen knife and repeatedly stabbed the Guy’s and St Thomas’ nurse.

The 41-year-old admitted manslaughter but denied murder, saying his depression impaired his mental judgement.

But he was found guilty of murder at a trial at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

The day before the killing, the Jamaica-born defendant told his brother that he feared he would kill himself or someone else.

Ms Kerr was killed when she returned from a shift at the hospital on the morning of August 15 last year.

The victim, whose six-year-old son Kavele tragically died of sickle cell disease, rose to fame with the NHS choir B Positive and performed in the final of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent last year.

Simonne had been back in touch with Sylva after their relationship had initially come to an end in February 2018.

Sylva called 999 shortly before 12.40pm and admitted he had killed Simonne, who was pronounced dead at the scene an hour later, despite the best efforts of medics.

Sylva had also called his brother shortly before 12.30pm to explain that he had just murdered his girlfriend.

At the scene, Sylva was met by officers and confirmed he had made the 999 call.

While other officers attempted to administer first aid to Simonne, and as paramedics travelled on blue lights to the address, Sylva told police that he had mental health problems and claimed that during an argument with Simonne he had been forced to defend himself, using a knife.

A consultant forensic pathologist concluded that the injuries inflicted upon Simonne were carried out in rapid succession. The murder weapon – a 20cm kitchen knife – was recovered in the flat in Grayshott Road.

In February 2019, Sylva pleaded guilty to manslaughter and admitted that it was not a case of self-defence, as he had originally claimed. He instead put forward that he had been suffering from depression at the time, which caused him to carry out the attack.

Sylva will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on June 28.

In a statement following the verdict, Simonne’s family said: “August 15 will forever be a day our family will remember and we will mourn our loss.

A beautiful butterfly will forever remind us of Simonne.”

Detective Chief Inspector John Massey said: “I’d like to pay tribute firstly to the family of Simonne Kerr. Simonne was murdered by a man she trusted and with whom she wanted to rekindle a trusting, loving relationship.

Desmond Sylva stabbed Simonne almost 70 times and then sought to reduce his guilt and responsibility for what he had done.

“Simonne’s family have shown incredible courage and dignity while listening to Desmond Sylva’s self-serving version of events. I hope today’s verdict goes some way to providing them with the sense of justice and closure that they need to go forward with their own lives.

“The issues before this jury were ultimately very narrow: Desmond Sylva was quite demonstrably not acting in self-defence and he had intended to cause Simonne serious harm.

However, Desmond Sylva tried to convince the jury that his previous depressive condition explained his actions and reduced his responsibility.

“Having listened to the evidence put forward by ourselves and the Crown Prosecution Service, this is a narrative that the jury have unequivocally rejected – finding Sylva guilty of brutally murdering Simonne Kerr.”

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