Iraq war veteran found guilty of murdering a Britain’s Got Talent finalist

Will Metcalfe
Simonne Kerr, 31, who was fatally stabbed in her home in Battersea, south west London. Desmond Sylva has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering the nurse who performed on Britain's Got Talent in an NHS choir to encourage blood donations after her young son Kavele (pictured) died from complications of sickle cell disease.

Iraq war veteran Desmond Sylva has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering a Britain’s Got Talent finalist.

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.

But prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told jurors it was an all too familiar case of "sexual desire, appalling violence and desperate lies".

Desmond Sylva, an Iraq war veteran who has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering his girlfriend Simonne Kerr. (PA)
File photo dated 15/8/2018 of orensics and a police officer at the home of Simonne Kerr in Battersea, south-west London after her death. Former soldier Desmond Sylva has admitted at the Old Bailey of killing the nurse who performed on Britain's Got Talent in an NHS choir.

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."

Sylva made no reaction as the Old Bailey jury delivered its guilty verdict after three days of deliberations.

Judge Wendy Joseph QC adjourned sentencing until June 28.

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.

A still from body worn video footage of Desmond Sylva's arrest. Jurors at the trial of the 41 year old at the Old Bailey have heard that he stabbed his girlfriend Simonne Kerr more than 70 times when she was in bed at his flat in Clapham, south London.
The body of Simonne Kerr is removed from her home in Battersea, south-west London. Former soldier Desmond Sylva has been convicted of murdering the nurse who performed on Britain's Got Talent in an NHS choir. (PA)

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."

Mr Glasgow told jurors: "It is hard to imagine how terrifying the last few minutes of Simonne Kerr's life must have been as she struggled to prevent the man who was supposed to care for her from murdering her.”

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Sylva had a history or 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.

Sylva's ex-wife had also accused him of being violent, but jurors were told the allegation was unproven.

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.

Giving evidence, Sylva said: "I did not mean to kill her. I had deep feelings for her.

"When I slashed the knife across her throat at that split second I thought I had a mental breakdown."

Psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph told jurors Sylva suffered from moderate depression, but did not report having flashbacks of Iraq during the killing.

He said Sylva had told him they argued and she called him a "good for nothing" before threatening him with a knife.

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