A two-year-old girl was killed in a “frenzied and extremely violent attack” by her mother’s boyfriend who claimed her injuries were caused by the family dog, a court has heard.
Lola James died on July 21 2020 of “catastrophic” head trauma, having suffered 101 external injuries and extensive damage to both her eyes.
Kyle Bevan, 31, from Queen’s Road, Aberystwyth, denies murdering the toddler four months after moving into the family home in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales.
He is now standing trial at Swansea Crown Court along with Lola’s mother, Sinead James, 30, who is charged with causing or allowing her death.
Opening the case, Caroline Rees KC said Bevan, who was an amphetamine user and prone to violent outbursts, subjected the little girl to a “brutal” assault while he was alone with her between the evening of July 16 and the morning of July 17.
Ms Rees told the court that Bevan claims Lola’s injuries were caused by her being pushed down the stairs by the family dog, which the prosecution say is a “deliberate lie to cover up his guilt”.
Jurors were shown photographs that Bevan took of Lola’s injuries and a video he shot showing her unconscious, badly injured and unable to stand.
They were also shown a number of internet searches he made for information about babies suffering head impact and loss of consciousness.
Ms Rees said that, despite this being an indication that the fatal injuries had already been caused, Bevan waited another hour before calling for an ambulance at around 7.30am.
When paramedics arrived at the home, not only did they find Lola lying unconscious with a swollen and bruised face but she also appeared to be wet, Ms Rees said.
The prosecutor said it is believed that Lola had been scrubbed clean, even of the children’s transfer tattoos which she appeared to have had on her arm the day before the attack.
Investigators also noted that the bath was spotlessly clean despite the rest of the house being generally dirty. A vomit and blood-stained grey onesie was also found in the corner of the living room.
Ms Rees went on: “We say that the injuries noted to Lola, including those which caused her premature death, were the result of a brutal and extremely violent physical assault upon her by Kyle Bevan whilst they were alone together.
“We say that, rather than face up to that which he did to the little girl, Kyle Bevan immediately tried to save himself.
“Rather than immediately call the emergency services, as surely would be natural had this been an accident as he now says, he took time to concoct excuses and lies.
“He tried, the prosecution say, to take a coward’s escape by trying to place false blame upon the family dog, suggesting that Lola must have fallen down the stairs.
“It is the prosecution case that the injuries sustained by Lola are wholly inconsistent with an accidental injury and show instead that she was the victim of what must have been a frenzied, brutal and violent attack at the hands of somebody she should have been able to trust.”
She said Bevan tried to “cover his tracks”, “even as far as cleaning the bath that we say he put Lola in, perhaps to revive her after his attack or alternatively to clean her of blood and vomit”.
James claims she was asleep when her daughter’s injuries were caused, which is accepted by the prosecution, Ms Rees said.
“We do say that she was, or at least should have been, well aware of the risk of violence which Kyle Bevan posed to her child but she did nothing to protect Lola from the danger which he presented, instead choosing to prioritise her relationship with him over her own daughter’s physical safety,” Ms Rees said.
She said the basis for their belief was that James knew Lola “had sustained injuries whilst in Kyle Bevan’s care in the past and she knew that he had a nasty and violent temper, particularly when under the influence of drugs.”
Experts are expected to be called by the prosecution during the trial to testify that Lola’s injuries show she was a “victim of abusive trauma” and a “deliberate physical assault”.
Lola was two years and nine months old at the time of her death four days later at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff.
Those who had known Lola during her short life are said to have described her as a “happy, beautiful and busy little girl”.
“Her life had barely started,” Ms Rees said.
The trial continues.