A stepfather who killed a two-year-old girl while her mother slept upstairs will be sentenced on Tuesday.
Kyle Bevan inflicted “catastrophic” brain injuries on Lola James in the early hours of July 17, 2020. Lola died in hospital four days later.
Bevan, 31, denied harming the girl, claiming the family dog pushed her down the stairs, but was convicted of the murder by a jury at Swansea Crown Court earlier in April.
Lola’s mother, Sinead James, 30, who was in bed when the assault is believed to have occurred, was found guilty of causing or enabling her daughter’s death.
After the verdicts were read out, Daniel Thomas, Lola’s biological father, called them “cruel and wicked people” and said he hoped they would “suffer pain and torment to their last breath.”
The girl’s grandmother, Nicola James, said Lola “will forever be our diamond in the sky”.
NSPCC Cymru said a review of the child’s file, to be undertaken following Lola’s death, should establish whether agencies could have done more to prevent her death.
Judge Griffiths will sentence Bevan and James at Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday.
Over the four weeks of the trial, the court heard how Bevan and James met on Facebook in February 2020 and that Bevan moved into the family home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire just days after they met.
He stayed at home during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time Lola suffered a number of injuries while in his sole care, including a damaged nose, black eyes and a cut lip.
Jurors were told Bevan, a self-confessed “spice head,” then launched a “murderous” attack on Lola after staying up late with her, snapping pictures of her on Snapchat, and used her last few hours to cover track her instead of calling for an ambulance.
The jury was 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.
A disturbing video Bevan sent to his mother showed him lifting Lola’s limp body, attempting to get her to her feet before dropping her to the ground — telling the camera, “She’s gone.”
Bevan did not ask his mother to call an ambulance for Lola until around 7:30, having only woken James around 7:20.
More than 100 scratches and bruises were recorded on Lola’s body, and she also suffered extensive damage to both eyes, with brain injuries comparable to those found in victims of motor vehicle accidents.
James told the court she heard “a bang and a scream” coming from Lola’s bedroom shortly after midnight and ran there to find her daughter sitting on Bevan’s lap, with no visible injuries.
She described how Bevan reassured her, saying “I get it,” before she went back to bed.
Hours later, she was awakened by Bevan saying Lola had fallen down the stairs, showing her a piece of the little girl’s tongue on her finger.
James called 999 in tears after finding his daughter unresponsive on the sofa, telling operators Lola’s face looked “puffy” and she was “really scared”.
At the hospital, Bevan became aggressive with hospital doctors who questioned him about Lola’s injuries as they were life threatening.
Bevan’s text messages to James showed him repeatedly telling her that their American bulldog Jessie was responsible for the crash and questioning her about what she was going to tell the police.
James, who had been helped by domestic abuse counselors in the past, admitted that Bevan “petrified” her and had previously used a hammer to destroy her home after consuming Xanax and alcohol.
Jurors heard that Bevan regularly used Xanax, Valium and cannabis, and that both the couple took amphetamines when the children were at James’ mother’s house.
Following the verdicts, the judge remanded Bevan in custody and James was again granted conditional bail, but was warned that he faced jail time.