Simonne Kerr murder: Ex-soldier guilty as family pay tribute to Harlesden nurse and charity campaigner

PUBLISHED: 17:51 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:51 19 June 2019

Simonne Kerr with her son Kavele    Picture: NHS Blood & Transplant

Simonne Kerr with her son Kavele Picture: NHS Blood & Transplant


An ex-soldier has been found guilty of the murder of Harlesden sickle-cell campaigner and Britain’s Got Talent star Simonne Kerr.

Desmond Sylva, found guilty of murdering Simonne Kerr. Picture: Metropolitan Police.Desmond Sylva, found guilty of murdering Simonne Kerr. Picture: Metropolitan Police.

Simonne, 31, was killed at the home of on-off boyfriend Desmond Sylva in Clapham on August 15 last year.

Desmond Sylva, 41, who served in the Iraq war, admitted manslaughter but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The court heard during the trial that he had suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress after serving in Iraq and Kosovo

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

Police and a forensics team at the scene of Simonne Kerr's murder in Clapham. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WirePolice and a forensics team at the scene of Simonne Kerr's murder in Clapham. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

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.

He will be sentenced by Judge Wendy Joseph QC on June 28.

Simonne, 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 was a nurse working at Guys and St Thomas's Hospital, and had been a vocal campaigner raising awareness of the dangers of sickle cell.

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The murder saw Sylva attack 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.

"The moment she realised the man who had been pursuing her wanted more than a relationship and in fact wanted to kill her must have been utterly horrifying."

Sylva had a history or depression, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder - but also had problems controlling his temper, jurors heard.

Louise Attrill, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This was a shocking attack on a woman who was busy dedicating her life to worthwhile causes. Having lost her six-year-old son to sickle cell disease, she was campaigning to raise awareness of the illness, and her charitable work also led her to sing in an NHS choir that performed on ITV's Britain's Got Talent.

"The fact that her partner, a man she should have trusted without doubt, could end all of this in a fit of rage makes this even harder to comprehend."

Ms Kerr's family said in a statement: "The 15th August will forever be a day our family will remember and we will mourn our loss. A beautiful butterfly will forever remind us of Simonne."

Detective Chief Inspector John Massey, of Scotland Yard, said: "I'd like to pay tribute firstly to the family of Simonne Kerr. Simonne was murdered on 15 August 2018 by a man she trusted and with whom she wanted to rekindle a trusting, loving relationship.

"Desmond Sylva stabbed Simonne almost 70 times and then sought to reduce his guilt and responsibility for what he had done.

"Simonne's family have shown incredible courage and dignity while listening to Desmond Sylva's self-serving version of events. I hope today's verdict goes some way to providing them with the sense of justice and closure that they need to go forward with their own lives."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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