An Iraq war veteran has been found guilty of murdering his widely popular girlfriend by slashing her neck with a 20 cm knife.
Jurors heard that 41-year-old Desmond Sylva stabbed Simone Kerr, a 'Britain's Got Talent' finalist, over 70 times at his Clapham, south London apartment, Daily Mail reports. He reportedly stabbed her after 'exploding with rage' because she would not have sex with him.
The day before the murder, Sylva reportedly told his brother he might kill himself or someone else.
The 41-year-old defendant was born in Jamaica and had served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Iraq and Kosovo. In court, he admitted to manslaughter but denied murder charges saying his depression had impaired his mental faculties.
Sylva attacked Kerr, 31, after she returned from her job as a nurse at the Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital on the morning of August 15 last year, the court heard.
After losing her six-year-old son Kavele to complications of sickle cell disease, the embattled mother had joined the B-Positive Choir. During last year's final of the ITV talent show, she performed with the same choir, eventually losing to comedian Lee Ridley, also known as the Lost Voice Guy.
Coming back to the crime, Sylva called his brother Damian, a serving signalman, after murdering Kerr. Subsequently, he summoned emergency services to the scene.
"Can I have police please, I've just committed a murder. I'm ex-Army and I've got lots of mental health issues." Sylva was heard saying in the 999 call recording.
Responding officers found Kerr lying naked on the bedroom floor covered by a bloody bedsheet.
Jurors heard a 20 cm knife which was used in the attack was found discarded in the kitchen sink.
Sylva was asked following his arrest if wanted to "clarify" anything. The defendant responded by saying he had "mental health issues" and had taken his olanzapine medication that morning.
However, toxicology tests found no traces of the drug, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, in his system.
Meanwhile, Pathologist Dr. Robert Chapman established the cause of Kerr's death as incisions and stab wounds to the neck and face, adding that the close grouping of injuries indicated they were inflicted in "rapid sequence." In conclusion, he said Kerr had no chance of survival considering the extensive wounds she sustained.
Sylva was discharged in 2012 on medical grounds after having served in Iraq and Kosovo. According to the report, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. The army veteran, who was working as a security guard at the time of the killing, told jurors how he was brought up by an abusive father back in Jamaica.
Sylva recalled he suffered his first mental episode after moving to London to live with his mother, and how he had to seek psychiatric care after cutting his neck in a bakery.
He also told jurors his time fighting on the front line in Basra had changed him forever.
"I was not the same person as I was," he said, adding that he did not seek professional help because it was considered "a sign of weakness" and only spoke to his comrades about his problems.