The best friend of a mother on trial over the killing of her two-year-old daughter claims she warned her to “get rid” of her allegedly aggressive, drug-taking boyfriend before something bad happened.
Kyle Bevan, 31, of Aberystwyth, denies murdering his partner’s daughter Lola James, 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 the toddler’s mother, Sinead James, 30, who is charged with causing or allowing her death.
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 jury has been told about a catalogue of injuries the young child suffered while in Bevan’s care in the months leading up to her death, including twice getting a bloodied nose, a cut lip and grazed chin.
Casey Morgan, a close friend of James, gave evidence on Thursday and said she believed the defendant was controlled by Bevan.
Ms Morgan said Bevan had moved in not long after getting into a relationship with James in early March.
She said he had taken James’s house key and her debit cards, would not allow her to have a mobile phone and often locked her out of the house and invited others around.
She said she knew Bevan to take amphetamines and other controlled drugs, smoke cannabis and drink heavily.
“I told her to get rid of him and that I didn’t want him around my house or my kids.
“I’ve been in a domestic abusive relationship before and he was showing all the signs. He was controlling. I didn’t like it, and you could tell he was on something.”
Ms Morgan said she and Bevan “clashed” about Lola, who she said she loved.
“I was there when she was born. I think I was the first to hold her,” she said, crying.
She described how James repeatedly called her for help when she said Bevan was behaving aggressively and “smashing up the house”.
And she said Lola began to stay regularly at her house or with James’s mother Nicola.
On July 5 Ms Morgan said she went to the park with Lola and her mother and noticed bruising on her legs.
Sobbing, Ms Morgan recounted how two days later, on July 7, James asked to come over to her house but Bevan arrived first.
“He was foaming by the mouth, his eyes were huge, he didn’t look good,” Ms Morgan said.
“He was aggressive and it was really scary.”
She said James arrived with Lola looking “petrified”.
Then she said Bevan admitted to her and her partner that he had threatened to rape James that morning.
“From that day I knew something bad was going to happen,” Ms Morgan said
“I told her that if she didn’t get rid of him he was going to hurt her.
“I said, something is going to happen to you Sinead.”
The jury was shown messages between the two defendants that were sent while Lola was in hospital in which Bevan was insisting the pair relay the same story about what happened to the police.
Bevan wrote their accounts needed to be “bang on”.
In one message, Bevan wrote: “Well what are you going to say? Sinead this is important like.”
James replied: “What you told me.”
Bevan messaged back: “Yeah obviously but you got to get it bang on like. Sinead for f*** sake like.”
The court also heard from Bevan’s mother Alison Bevan who gave evidence via video link from inside the court.
Ms Bevan said her son had been diagnosed with ADHD when he was six, and said he was “a bit thick”.
She said she was aware of an instance when her son had grabbed James’s arm and she kicked him out.
Messages between James and Bevan’s former girlfriend’s mother were also read to the court in which she told the defendant that Bevan was a danger to children.
The previous owner of the family dog Jessie also took to the stand.
Coral Barker said American Bulldog Jessie had not been aggressive with her four young children, calling her a “nanny dog”, adding that she liked “cuddles and fusses”.
When cross-examined by John Hipkin KC, defending Bevan, he asked Ms Barker: “Do you know where Jessie is now?”
Ms Barker said: “She was put to sleep a couple of months ago.”
Mr Hipkin said: “Was that because she injured someone.”
Ms Barker replied: “Yes, apparently.”
The trial continues.