Murder accused was attempting ‘to defend himself’ when he cut girlfriend’s neck

An Iraq war veteran accused of murdering a Britain’s Got Talent finalist told police he cut her neck to “defend” himself, a court has heard.

Desmond Sylva, 41, stabbed his girlfriend Simonne Kerr more than 70 times when she was in bed at his flat in Clapham, south London, jurors have heard.

The day before, Sylva (pictured), who served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Iraq and Kosovo, allegedly told his brother he might kill himself or someone else.

The 41-year-old Jamaica-born defendant has admitted manslaughter but denies murder, claiming his depression impaired his mental function.

The court heard that nurse Ms Kerr, 31, was attacked by Sylva after returning from work at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital on the morning of August 15 last year.

Afterwards, Sylva called his brother Damian, a serving signalman, and emergency services.

Jurors have heard the 999 call in which Sylva said: “Can I have police please, I’ve just committed a murder.

“I’m ex-Army and I’ve got lots of mental health issues.”

When police arrived, they discovered Ms Kerr lying naked on the bedroom floor covered by a bloody duvet.

A 20cm knife Sylva used in the attack was discarded in the kitchen sink, jurors were told.

Pc Joe Wright responded to the 999 call and arrested Sylva outside his flat.

In bodycam footage played in court, Pc Wright asked him: “Buddy, do you want to tell us what’s been going on?”

Sylva replied: “I’ve got mental health issues.”

The officer asked: “Why have you got blood in your hands?”

The defendant responded: “My girlfriend tried to attack me and I…”

Sylva directed officers to Ms Kerr’s body in an upstairs bedroom.

Asked what happened, he said it was “just a fight”, adding: “I just defend myself.”

Sylva went on to say he injured Ms Kerr’s neck with a knife.

Following his arrest, Sylva was asked if he wanted to “clarify” anything.

The defendant said he had “mental health issues” and had taken his olanzapine medication that morning.

As he was put in a police van to be taken to Sutton Police Station, Sylva complained his handcuffs were uncomfortable.

But Pc Wright told him: “They are not designed to be comfortable.”

Jurors have heard that toxicology texts found no alcohol or drugs or presence of olanzapine, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder.

Pathologist Dr Robert Chapman gave the cause of Ms Kerr’s death as incised and stab wounds to the neck and face.

He told the court the close grouping of injuries suggested they were caused in “rapid sequence”.

The extensive wounds gave her no chance of survival, jurors were told.

Ms Kerr’s mother and sister appeared visibly distressed as they listened to the evidence in court.

The Old Bailey trial continues.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Metropolitan Police / PA Wire.