A two-year-old girl suffered 101 injuries when she was killed by her stepfather, who then claimed the family dog pushed her down the stairs, a murder trial heard today.
Lola James died from a catastrophic brain injury after she was allegedly attacked by her mother’s boyfriend, Kyle Bevan, 31, at her Pembrokeshire home.
Mother Sinead James, 30, told police she was asleep when Lola suffered a series of horrific injuries – and claimed to have no reason to think Bevan would harm her.
A court heard James failed to protect her daughter when she allowed Bevan to move into their home.
Lola died just four months after he moved in from the ‘frenzied and extremely violent attack.’
The court heard doctors at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff found 101 surface injuries on Lola including ‘bruising all over her little body and grazing of the skin.’
She also suffered extensive damage to every part of both retinas along with a catastrophic brain injury and died four days later, aged just two years and nine months.
Prosecutor Caroline Rees KC said Bevan searched the internet for information about ‘babies’ sustaining head impact and loss of consciousness’ on the morning of the alleged attack on July 17, 2020.
He also took photos and a video of Lola’s swollen head after her injuries.
But the trial heard he waited nearly one hour before raising the alarm at the family home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
Swansea Crown Court heard mother James knew her boyfriend had a ‘nasty and violent temper’ but chose to ‘prioritise her relationship with him over her own daughter’s physical safety.’
Mrs Rees said: ‘We say that although Kyle Bevan was not Lola’s father biologically, she should have been able to trust him as an adult in her home not to cause her any harm.
‘We say that he seriously abused that trust. We say also that Lola should have been able to rely on her own mother to keep her safe from harm and physical risk.
‘Sinead James, the prosecution say, seriously failed in her duty towards her young child.’
The court heard Bevan carried out internet searches at 6.32am before he waited until 7.28am to tell his mother Alison Bevan to call an ambulance.
Mrs Rees said: ‘The Prosecution say that Kyle Bevan needed that hour to concoct lies to protect himself and to come up with an excuse for how this little child had gone from being alive and well to being in such a perilous state whilst she was alone with him.
‘He needed the time to cover his tracks. When paramedics arrived they found that Lola had been dressed but was wet and that Lola was seriously ill.
‘She was unconscious, though still breathing, and her head and face were swollen.
‘Bruises were noted on Lola’s forehead. Kyle Bevan continued to try and explain things away by blaming the family dog for pushing Lola downstairs.
‘The prosecution say that was a deliberate lie to cover up his guilt.’
Mrs Rees said Bevan ‘immediately tried to save himself’ instead of helping little Lola to get medical attention.
Bevan filmed himself attempting to prop up a two-year-old girl after carrying out a ‘frenzied attack’ on her, a jury heard.
He sent his mother a video of Lola, limp with a swollen head, as he attempted to make her stand up.
The tragic tot can then be seen falling to the ground with a bump as Bevan is heard to say: ‘She’s gone. She’s gone.’
Swansea Crown Court heard Bevan sent the ‘disturbing 22-second film’ to his mother Alison Bevan who urged him to call an ambulance.
The footage was taken 26 minutes after Bevan had already carried out a series of internet searches at 6.32am.
One search said: ‘My two year old child has just taken a bang to the head and gone all limp and snoring. What’s wrong.’
Prosecutor Caroline Rees KC said Lola could be heard making a ‘snoring sound’ in the clip that was shown to the jury.
She said: ‘Again the Prosecution ask the question, if this really was an accident why was Kyle Bevan spending time staging a recording like this rather than doing everything he could to contact the emergency services.’
The jury was also shown photos images of the plans of the family home with the stairs in the centre of the downstairs floor plan and a bunkbed in Lola’s bedroom.
Photos from police crime scene investigators also showed a ‘clean and shiny bath’ while the rest of the house was piled with clutter and toys.
Mrs Rees said: ‘Despite the fact the house was generally dirty and untidy, the bath appeared to be spotless as though it had recently been cleaned.
‘Also recovered in the course of the search was a child’s wet and vomit and blood stained grey onesie which was found in the corner of the living room.
‘The Prosecution say that the combination of these features show that Kyle Bevan was desperately trying to cover his tracks even as far as cleaning the bath that we say he put Lola in, perhaps to revive her after his attack or to clean her of blood and vomit.
‘Curtains and a sheet were recovered from the washing machine.’
The court heard Bevan had ‘scrubbed off’ temporary tattoos that had been seen on little Lola just days earlier.
Mrs Rees said Lola was first taken to Withybush hospital in Haverfordwest when became ‘agitated and hostile’ towards emergency doctor Dr Nicola Drake.
The court heard he wanted to know if the answers he gave to questions were confidential before he raised his voice at the doctor.
Bevan then threatened: ‘If you take one step out of this room with those notes, I’ll rip them out of your hands’.
Mrs Rees said: His aggression was such that Dr Drake was frightened he would attack her but she stood up to him and told him the police would be called to which he replied ‘Ha – police’.
The court heard Lola had suffered injuries in Bevan’s care before her death but her mother still allowed him to share the family home.
Mrs Rees said: ‘The relationship between the defendants was volatile. Kyle Bevan was an unpredictable character who was prone to aggressive outbursts which appeared to escalate as his relationship with Sinead James went on.
‘His temperament was exacerbated by his use of controlled drugs, particularly amphetamine which he was taking during his relationship with Sinead James and whilst living in the family home.’
Bevan claimed Lola had two falls – the first fall when she fell from a bunk bed ladder in her room at night and the second in the morning when the dog pushed her down the stairs.
The court heard James claimed she heard a bang at midnight and found Bevan comforting Lola in her bedroom.
Mrs Rees said: ‘He told her Lola had hit her head. It is Sinead James’ case that she went back to sleep until she was woken by Kyle Bevan telling her Lola had fallen downstairs.’