A mother has branded her partner “a monster” who should “rot in hell” after he allegedly killed her two-year-old daughter before blaming the family dog.
Sinead James, who is also accused of causing or allowing the death of the toddler, broke down in tears as she recalled the morning of July 17, 2021, when Kyle Bevan is accused of launching the fatal attack.
Bevan, 31, from Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, is charged with murdering Lola James, who died of her injuries four days later.
Wearing all black, James, from Neyland, Pembrokeshire, sobbed as she gave evidence for several hours at Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old mother-of-three said she met Bevan on Facebook in February 2020, and he moved into her home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, during lockdown the following month.
Lola was the middle child, and her two sisters, of different fathers, cannot be named following a court ruling.
James said that a few minutes after midnight on July 17, 2021, she heard “a bang and a scream coming from Lola” in her bedroom.
She said she ran to the room and found Lola sitting on Bevan’s lap, with no visible injuries.
James told the court that Bevan reassured her, saying ‘I’ve got this’, and she went to bed.
Hours later, at around 7.20am, James said Bevan woke her to say that Lola had fallen down the stairs, and presented a piece of her daughter’s tongue on his finger.
“I got dressed and ran down the stairs,” she said. “Lola was on the sofa and her head was swollen, and her lips … Kyle told me she fell down the stairs … he said the dog pushed her and barged her.
“He said that he put his fingers in his mouth to stop her fitting, and he showed me what was on his fingers, which was a bit of her tongue.
“I told him to put it back where he got it from.”
When asked what was going through her mind when she saw Lola unconscious, James cried and said: “What’s happened to my baby?”
She said: “I never thought he would kill my children, never in a million years, and he’s a monster.
“I didn’t realise it was so bad until my daughter got rushed to hospital.
“If I had have got him out of the house my daughter would still be alive today.
“I have got to live with that every single day. I beat myself up every single day.
“He needs to rot in hell.”
James also told the court Bevan “smashed up” her home with a hammer after taking Xanax on May 14, 2021, forcing her to shield her children by taking them to a friend’s house at 10.30pm.
She said he regularly took Xanax, Valium and cannabis, and they both took amphetamines, but only when the children were at her mother’s house.
James initially said that Bevan had never acted violently towards her or her children, apart from on one occasion where he bruised her arm after grabbing it while attempting to take her phone during an argument.
However, she later said he had pushed her youngest daughter’s buggy into a busy road on July 7, 2021, and recalled injuries her youngest two daughters had suffered after spending time with Bevan.
James said she believed his “excuses” each time, including claims that the family dog had caused bruising.
She said this was because Bevan was usually “really good” with her children, that he played with them and cooked them dinner.
James added that her relationship with Bevan was “totally different” from the allegedly abusive relationship she had with her previous partner, after which she began taking medication for anxiety and depression.
Prosecutor Caroline Rees KC told the court that James had received help and education on domestic abuse and the related dangers following her previous relationship, and there were clear signs that Bevan posed a risk to her children.
When Ms Rees asked James why she had not “cut him off” after previous incidents, she said: “Because I’m stupid. He said he would never do it again.”
James said she started to believe that Bevan was responsible for her daughter’s death only during police interviews.
She cried as she described Lola, telling the court: “She was a lovely little girl.
“She was full of beans – so cute and lively. I could not ask for a better daughter.”
James said Lola had been accident-prone, regularly falling over and bruising her shins, and she had tried to get her tested for ADHD.
Lola died on July 21 2020 of “catastrophic” head trauma, having suffered 101 external injuries and extensive damage to both her eyes. Her brain injuries were compared with those found in car crash victims.
Bevan claims the family dog caused the injuries by pushing her down the stairs.
The trial continues.