‘Monster’ mum and boyfriend who killed two-year-old and blamed dog jailed for 34 years

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Kyle Bevan was found guilty of murdering two-year-old Lola James while her mum was asleep

A “monster” stepdad who murdered a two-year-old girl while her mum lay asleep upstairs has been jailed for life.

Kyle Bevan, 31, has been handed a minimum term of 28 years for the murder of his stepdaughter Lola James who died in 2020.

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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. He remained living in the house throughout the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which Lola suffered several serious injuries while in his care, including a bloody nose, black eyes and a cut lip.

Jurors were told that Bevan, a self-confessed “spice head”, then launched a “murderous” attack on Lola in the early hours of 17 July 2020 after staying up late with her, taking pictures of her on Snapchat.

The 31-year-old inflicted “catastrophic” brain injuries on the toddler and used his final hours to cover his tracks instead of calling for an ambulance. She sadly died in hospital four days later.

Lola James was murdered by her stepfather while her mother lay asleep (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA)Lola James was murdered by her stepfather while her mother lay asleep (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA)
Lola James was murdered by her stepfather while her mother lay asleep (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA) | PA

Internet searches made on Bevan’s phone at around 6.30am included: “Two year old just taken a bang to the head, gone all limp and snoring”, while a disturbing video he sent to his mum showed him picking up the Lola’s limp body, attempting to stand her on her feet before letting her fall to the floor, telling the camera: “She’s gone.” Despite her injuries, Bevan did not ask his mum to phone for an ambulance for Lola until almost 7.30am, having only woken James up at around 7.20am.

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Investigators who visited the home also found it to be dirty, messy and cluttered but noticed the bath appeared “spotless, as if it had recently been cleaned”. It is believed that Bevan 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 Lola is thought to have been wearing when she was attacked was later found in the corner of the living room, and paramedics arrived to find Lola wet and in clean clothes.

The jury were 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. Her murder was seen by investigators as the culmination of escalating violence towards her at the hands of Bevan, who denied harming the girl and claimed the family dog had pushed her down the stairs. But earlier this month a jury at Swansea Crown Court found him guilty of murder.

Medical experts said the trauma she suffered 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 two-year-old had 101 scratches and bruises to her body and head, extensive damage to both her eyes, and severe brain injuries.

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One of the medical experts who examined her 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.

Two-year-old Lola James (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA)Two-year-old Lola James (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA)
Two-year-old Lola James (Photo: Dyfed-Powys Police / PA) | PA

Lola’s mother Sinead James, 30, who had been in bed when the assault is believed to have happened, was found guilty of causing or allowing her daughter’s death and was jailed for six years at a hearing on Tuesday (25 April).

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. But no visits were made to the address after 10 February - the same month Bevan moved into her house.

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.

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The 30-year-old, who had been helped by domestic abuse support workers in the past, admitted that Bevan “petrified” her and called him “a monster”.

She described how he had previously used a hammer to smash up her home after consuming Xanax and alcohol. Jurors heard that Bevan regularly used Xanax, Valium and cannabis, and that the couple both took amphetamines when the children were at James’ mother’s house.

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 told the court she heard “a bang and a scream” coming from Lola’s bedroom just after midnight and ran there to find her daughter sitting on Bevan’s lap, with no visible injuries.

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She said Bevan reassured her, saying “I’ve got this”, before she went back to bed. But hours later she was woken by the 31-year-old who told her Lola had fallen down the stairs, and he showed her a piece of the little girl’s tongue on his finger.

James rang 999 in tears after finding her daughter unresponsive on the sofa, telling operators that Lola’s face appeared “swollen” and she was “really scared”. In hospital, Bevan became aggressive with doctors who questioned him over Lola’s injuries while she was in a life-threatening condition.

Text messages from Bevan to James showed him repeatedly telling her that their American bulldog Jessie was responsible for the incident, and questioning her about what she was going to tell the police.

Bevan remained expressionless and showed no emotion as he was jailed for life at Swansea Crown Court, while James was tearful throughout the hearing, particularly as the victim impact statement from her mother was read out. She cried when she was jailed for six years.

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After the verdicts were read, Daniel Thomas, Lola’s biological father, branded the pair “cruel, evil people” and said he hoped they would “suffer pain and torment until they take their last breath”.

He added: “Lola didn’t just die. She wasn’t just taken from me in the worst way ever possible. She was brutally attacked. Her tiny body was savaged in the evilest way. She didn’t stand a chance. 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. All I have been left with is guilt, heartache, pain, and torment.”

NSPCC Cymru said a child practice review, which will be carried out into Lola’s death, should establish whether more could have been done by agencies to prevent her death. A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council also confirmed a child practice review would take place into the toddler’s death.