AN Iraq war veteran who stabbed his girlfriend to death in a horrific murder has been jailed for life today.
Desmond Sylva, 41, knifed on-off partner Simonne Kerr 70 times as she lay in bed at his flat in Clapham, south London.
He was told he will serve with a minimum of 21 years behind bars, at the Old Bailey today.
Judge Wendy Joseph QC 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.”
KILLER GETS LIFE
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.”
You killed Simonne Kerr because you are a man of violent disposition prone to outbursts of violent temper
Judge Wendy Joseph QC
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 his trial jurors were told how after stabbing her he then washed the blood off, changed his clothes and draped the duvet cover over her body before calling both his brother and the 999 operator to tell them he had murdered his girlfriend.
But the former fusilier, who completed tours of Iraq and Kosovo over a decade until his discharge on medical grounds in 2012, later told jurors his depression impaired his self-control.
The pair had recently rekindled a romantic relationship and Ms Kerr travelled from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital to Sylva’s flat.
They originally met on Tinder and jurors heard a slew of lewd texts Sylva sent the nurse during the course of it expressing his desire for sex.
Sylva downplayed them during his trial, claiming they were just platonic, and accused Ms Kerr of squeezing him for money for holidays and other luxuries as well as belittling him.
He insisted she had pulled a knife on him on the morning of August 15 last year because he was not giving her enough attention.
The war veteran said he could not remember what happened between disarming her and finding her lying dead on the floor.
But Oliver Glasgow QC, prosecuting, told jurors Sylva was desperate for sex and “when he did not get what he wanted he could not control his anger and he exploded”.
This was no loss of self-control brought about by his depression. This was anger that exploded out of him and which was vented on a defenceless woman
Oliver Glasgow QC
“Simonne Kerr did nothing to bring this attack upon herself,” he added.
“This was no loss of self-control brought about by his depression. This was anger that exploded out of him and which was vented on a defenceless woman.
“To use his own words, he murdered her.’
Sylva sat motionless in the dock as the guilty verdict was announced.
He admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility but had denied murder.
Ms Kerr appeared on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent as part of the choir B Positive, which was formed by NHS nurses and doctors to raise awareness for blood donations.
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
Sylva’s history of violence goes back almost 20 years to when he was 22 and he stabbed himself in the neck, two years after he and other relatives moved to the UK from Jamaica.
He married in 2005, two years after enlisting in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and was admitted to a military psychiatric unit after taking an overdose in the aftermath of his marriage breaking down in 2010.
After undergoing treatment and medication for severe depression he was deemed fit to be released.
But three days later he tried to kill his own mother, Patricia King.
Sylva told jurors how his mental health deteriorated towards the end of 2017 after he stopped taking his antipsychotic medication.
He said he began suffering sleepless nights and cold sweats within three or four months which he put down to “flashbacks”.
“Sometimes I felt like I was in a warzone – like I was back in Iraq”, he told the court.
Sylva met Ms Kerr on Tinder at around the same time close to the turn of last year.
Jurors heard he took another overdose on August 9, less than a week before the murder, and was discharged the same day.
But he kept it secret from Ms Kerr, and was even ‘able to drag his mind out of the fog of his depression and back into the gutter’ by sending lewd messages barely 12 hours later.
SELF DEFENCE CLAIMS
Both he and Ms Kerr worked night shifts that evening and arranged for her to come to his flat after she finished at the hospital.
His account of what then happened seemed to change every time he was asked.
He told police she “get on my nerves man, trying to fight me and take my money so I had to defend myself”.
The court heard he told various psychiatrists she wanted sex and he was too tired and that she goaded him about being a good for nothing boyfriend.
Sylva told jurors he was exhausted and Ms Kerr got annoyed because “she wanted me to stay awake, to speak with her and to give her my full attention”.
He said he eventually “dozed off”, only to wake up to the sight of the nurse standing at the foot of his bed in just her underwear ‘waving’ a knife at him.
Sylva said: “To my knowledge she was just standing there with a knife.
“But after she was in front of me I don’t remember anything more from when she was on the floor.’”
Mr Glasgow told jurors that although reference to flashbacks, the battlefield and hyper-vigilance may appear attractive because Sylva is a war veteran, his mental condition was no defence to the “horrific” murder.
“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 had no need at all to defend himself from her,” he added.
“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.”
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