BGT nurse stabbed to death by Iraq war veteran boyfriend, trial hears4 min read

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Simonne Kerr had dedicated her life to raising awareness of sickle cell anaemia after the death of her son Kavele, six (pictured)

Simonne Kerr had dedicated her life to raising awareness of sickle cell anaemia after the death of her son Kavele, six (pictured)

A nurse who performed on Britain’s Got Talent ‘did not stand a chance’ as she was stabbed more than 70 times by her former soldier boyfriend, a court heard today. 

Desmond Sylva ‘butchered’ Simonne Kerr, 31, with an 8in (20cm) kitchen knife, slashing her throat and stabbing her in the face at his flat in Clapham, south London.

Sylva, who completed two tours in Iraq and one in Kosovo, was admitted to hospital the night before threatening to kill himself or someone else, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.

The 41-year-old Jamaica-born defendant has admitted manslaughter but denies murder, claiming his depression impaired his mental function.

However, the prosecution allege that he attacked NHS nurse Ms Kerr, who worked at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, simply because he ‘lost his temper’.

Ms Kerr appeared on the ITV talent show with the B Positive Choir, performing in last year’s final. 

She had dedicated her life to raising awareness of sickle cell anaemia after the death of her six-year-old son Kavele in 2015. 

Sylva, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, dialled 999 and said ‘I’m armed and dangerous’ after stabbing Ms Kerr.  

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A recording of the harrowing call was played to jurors, in which he can be heard saying: ‘I’m ex-Army and I’ve got loads of mental issues. It was just a while ago, like 10 or 15 minutes.

‘I’m armed and dangerous. I’ve got knives, I’ve got guns, I’ve got everything.’

Simonne Kerr (circled) appeared on the ITV talent show with the B Positive Choir

Simonne Kerr (circled) appeared on the ITV talent show with the B Positive Choir

Opening his trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said Ms Kerr was last seen leaving the hospital where she worked on August 15 last year, heading to Sylva’s flat in Clapham, south London.

At lunchtime that day, Sylva telephoned his brother to say he had just murdered his girlfriend before alerting emergency services, the jury was told.

Ms Kerr was last seen leaving the hospital where she worked on August 15 last year

Ms Kerr was last seen leaving the hospital where she worked on August 15 last year

In the 999 call played in court, Sylva said: ‘Can I have police please? I’ve just committed a murder.

‘I’m ex-Army and I’ve got lots of mental health issues.’

Asked why he had done it, he said: ‘She’s just get on my nerves, man, trying to fight me and take my money so I had to defend myself (sic).’

Police found Ms Kerr’s body wrapped in a blood-soaked duvet, suggesting she had been attacked while lying in bed, jurors heard.

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Mr Glasgow said: ‘Her throat had been slashed and she had been repeatedly stabbed to the right side of her face and her neck.

‘Desmond Sylva had used a kitchen knife to inflict more than 70 wounds to her body and, despite her efforts to fight him off, she was clearly powerless to do so.’

Afterwards, the defendant initially told police he had acted in self-defence during an argument and claimed to have partial amnesia.

Police at the scene outside Sylva's flat in Clapham, south London in August last year

Police at the scene outside Sylva’s flat in Clapham, south London in August last year 

The NHS nurse and gospel singer had performed in the final of Britain's Got Talent

The NHS nurse and gospel singer had performed in the final of Britain’s Got Talent

But Mr Glasgow said: ‘What is obvious is that Simonne Kerr did not stand a chance.

‘The last few minutes of her life must have been utterly terrifying: repeatedly stabbed by the man who was supposed to care for her but who in the end simply butchered her and then tried to blame her for what he had done.

‘The question that you will have to determine is why he did what he did.

‘He chose to pick up a knife and he chose to use it again and again to stab Simonne Kerr at a time when he was not acting in lawful self-defence and did not need to defend himself from her.

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‘His depression neither explains nor justifies his actions and what happened was that his anger got the better of him and he simply lost his temper.’

Kerr's mother Amoy Kerr at the Old Bailey today

Sally Kerr

Left, Kerr’s mother Amoy Kerr and right, his sister Sally Kerr outside the Old Bailey today

Sylva served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Iraq and Kosovo before being discharged from the Army on medical grounds. 

At the time of the killing, he was working as a security guard in Canary Wharf and had been prescribed medication for his depression.

Sylva’s family knew about his struggle with depression and he was briefly admitted to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after telling his mother he was feeling suicidal on August 9 last year.

The day before the killing, the defendant allegedly told his brother, Damian Sylva, that he was going to kill himself or someone else.

After speaking for a long time, Sylva appeared to calm down and said he was getting ready for work, the court was told.

When Sylva called his brother to say he had ‘murdered his girlfriend’ the next day, it was the ‘last thing he expected to hear,’ Mr Glasgow said.

The Old Bailey trial continues. 

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