Iraq war veteran jailed for killing Britain’s Got Talent finalist
An Iraq war veteran has been jailed for life after stabbing a Britain’s Got Talent finalist to death in a violent rage.
Desmond Sylva, 41, knifed his on-off girlfriend Simonne Kerr, 31, more than 70 times at his flat in Clapham, south London, on August 15 last year.
The former soldier, who served in Iraq and Kosovo, admitted manslaughter but denied murder, citing depression.
Sentencing Sylva at the Old Bailey after he was convicted of murder, Judge Wendy Joseph QC handed him a term of life imprisonment with a minimum of 21 years.
Judge Joseph said Sylva carried out a “sustained and ferocious attack”, adding: “There is only one sentence and that is life imprisonment.”
The judge said: “You will never be released unless and until the Parole Board permits it.
“The board will not permit it until you are no longer a danger to the public.”
Due to time served on remand, she told Sylva he will be able to apply for parole in 20 years and 45 days.
Judge Joseph told Sylva: “What you have done and the grief it has caused, and will continue to cause far into the future, is immeasurable.”
She said: “Simonne was simply a lovely person much loved by her family.”
The judge added: “Simonne was in your home undressed and in your bed and was about as vulnerable as a person can be.”
She said it was clear that Sylva has a “dreadful and ungovernable” temper, adding: “You killed Simonne Kerr because you are a man of violent disposition prone to outbursts of violent temper.”
During the trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told jurors it was an all too familiar case of “sexual desire, appalling violence and desperate lies”.
He said: “He wanted to restart a sexual relationship with Simonne Kerr. When he did not get what he wanted, he could not control his anger and he exploded.”
The judge said on Wednesday that messages Sylva sent to Ms Kerr were “sexually charged”.
Ms Kerr, whose six-year-old son Kavele tragically died of sickle cell disease, shot to fame in the NHS choir B Positive on the ITV show Britain’s Got Talent.
She met Sylva through dating app Tinder and arranged to visit his flat after finishing her shift at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital on the morning of August 15.
Sylva attacked her in bed with a 20cm kitchen knife, slashing her throat and repeatedly stabbing her face and neck.
Afterwards, he called 999 and said: “I’ve just committed a murder. I’m ex-Army and I’ve got lots of mental health issues.”
Sylva had a history of depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder – but also had problems controlling his temper, jurors heard.
Before he joined the Army, Jamaican-born Sylva had cut his neck while working in a bakery.
The divorced father-of-one served 10 years in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers before being discharged on medical grounds.
In 2010, Sylva throttled his mother Patricia King, telling her repeatedly: “You’re dead,” jurors heard.
Ms King reported the assault to police but later withdrew the complaint because he had been depressed and suicidal.
On August 9 last year, Sylva was admitted to hospital after he took an overdose.
The day before the killing, the security guard told his brother Damian, a serving Signalman, he feared he would kill himself or someone else.
A statement from Ms Kerr’s mother Amoy Johnson was read by Mr Glasgow before the judge passed sentence.
She described her daughter as a “beautiful butterfly” who was a “great mother to her son” and “loved people”.
The statement described Ms Kerr as “a kind hearted loving child who was full of life and laughter. A shining light”.
Ms Kerr worked hard and was successful in her studies, the statement said.
“Her sisters were her biggest cheerleaders,” it said, adding: “They are crushed, traumatised and forever left with the pain and a few hollow hole of Simmone.”
The statement said: “It is not easy for me to see such a shining light, a soul with so much treasure viciously snuffed out for no reason.
“My daughter’s death has left us with unbearable sadness and unimaginable grief.
“She was callously murdered by a vindictive and manipulative man.”