An ex-soldier who stabbed his Britain’s Got Talent finalist partner more than 70 times and slashed her throat has been convicted of her murder.
Desmond Sylva attacked nurse Simonne Kerr, 31, with a kitchen knife in an “utterly terrifying attack” at his south London flat on 15 August.
He had admitted manslaughter but denied murder, claiming his depression impaired his mental function.
Sylva, 41, of Clapham, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 28 June.
During the trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said the actions of the Iraq war veteran were a case of “sexual desire, appalling violence and desperate lies”.
He said Sylva “wanted to restart a sexual relationship” with Ms Kerr, his on-off girlfriend.
“When he did not get what he wanted, he could not control his anger and he exploded,” the court heard.
The Crown Prosecution Service said that the pair ended the relationship earlier in 2018, but rekindled it a month before the killing.
Ms Kerr, whose six-year-old son Kavele died of sickle cell disease, found fame as part of an NHS choir, called B Positive, on the ITV talent show.
She met Sylva through a dating app and had arranged to visit his flat after finishing her shift at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital on 15 August.
In a 999 call played in court, 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.”
Sylva served in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers between 2002 and 2012 before he was discharged on medical grounds.
Since then he has had treatment on a number of occasions and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
He told the court he did not mean to kill Ms Kerr and that when he slashed her throat “at that split second I though I had a mental breakdown”.
Giving evidence, psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph questioned whether the attack had anything to do with being depressed and suggested Sylva was “pre-disposed to violence”.
League Two club Leyton Orient have signed forward Conor Wilkinson from Dagenham & Redbridge for an undisclosed fee.
The 24-year old joins the O’s having netted 12 times in 23 National League games for the Daggers last term.
The forward has also had spells in the football league at Bolton Wanderers and Gillingham.
He scored two goals in 13 appearances for the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level.
Earlier, Orient chairman Nigel Travis told supporters that the club planned to “build on” Justin Edinburgh’s coaching team when they name a successor to their late manager.
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A British-Iranian mother detained in Iran has begun a new hunger strike.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who is joining her in refusing food, said she wanted her unconditional release.
It comes amid growing tensions between the UK and Iran, after Britain said the Iranian regime was “almost certainly” responsible for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran has denied being behind Thursday’s explosions but the UK Foreign Office said “no other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible”.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Iran to “do the right thing” and release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
“Our message to Iran is whatever the disagreements you may have with the United Kingdom, there is an innocent woman at the heart of this,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe said he had received a phone call from his wife to tell him she had informed the Iranian judiciary that she had begun a hunger strike – although she would still drink water – to protest her “unfair imprisonment”.
He added that his wife sounded “nervous but calm”.
“Her demand from the strike, she said, is for unconditional release.
“She has long been eligible for it. I do not know the response from the Iranian authorities,” he said.
He said his wife had made the decision following the fifth birthday of their daughter, Gabriella.
Gabriella has not been allowed to leave Iran following her mother’s arrest and is living with her maternal grandparents.
“Nazanin had vowed that if we passed Gabriella’s fifth birthday with her still inside, then she would do something – to mark to both governments – that enough is enough,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
“This really has gone on too long.”
Friends and family gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London on Saturday, singing Happy Birthday via a video call to Gabriella, who celebrated her birthday on 11 June, and sharing a unicorn-shaped birthday cake.
As he began his own hunger strike, Mr Ratcliffe said: “I said that if she did it again I would stand in solidarity with her.
“A hunger strike in prison, nobody gets to see it – a hunger strike here is much more public. I will keep her story public.”
The next UK prime minister should make it their top priority to “protect British citizens from unfair imprisonment, from torture”, said Mr Ratcliffe.
Mr Ratcliffe has urged the Iranian authorities to allow British embassy officials to visit her to check on her health during her hunger strike.
He said that if she was not freed within the next few weeks, he wanted the Iranians to grant a visa so he could visit her himself.
The 40-year-old aid worker was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport in April 2016 and has always maintained the visit was to introduce her daughter, Gabriella, to her relatives.
She is serving a five-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
Mr Hunt granted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in March, but Tehran refuses to acknowledge her dual nationality.
Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen said her plight was “truly heart-breaking”.
“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments – including months in solitary confinement and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care,” she said.
A coroner has raised concerns at pedestrian crossings after a woman died when she was hit by a bus as she crossed a road.
Julia Luxmore Peto, 27, was crossing Deptford Broadway in south-east London when she was hit by a bus going through a green traffic light.
A coroner said there was a possibility she was confused by a green light on the other side of the road.
He has written to the government to warn it over “two-stage crossings”.
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said it was “updating our planning guidance to help councils ensure pedestrian crossings are clear and not misleading”.
Christopher Williams, assistant coroner for Inner London South, wrote in a prevention of future deaths report that Ms Peto had been crossing the three-lane eastbound carriageway of the road at about 16:53 BST on 16 September.
The first two lanes had stopped at a red light, but the third filter lane – separated from the first two by a pedestrian island – was showing green.
CCTV footage from the bus showed that Ms Peto was looking left when she stepped out in front of the bus coming from her right and was hit. She died in hospital the following day.
Mr Williams said that at the time of her crossing the eastbound side, a green pedestrian light was displayed on the westbound carriageway.
He concluded she died as the result of a road traffic accident but said he remains “concerned that there is a strong possibility” she was confused by the far light but could not say for sure on the balance of probabilities.
Transport for London has since modified those lights to reduce the risk of “see-through” for pedestrians and were putting in “look left” and “look right” markings.
The DfT is set to publish fresh guidance for local authorities on all types of pedestrian areas, which includes ensuring that the risks of a layout misleading pedestrians are considered.
A spokesman said: “The guidance will be published later this year and all councils should apply it to their own roads.”
Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff has paid tribute to late boss Justin Edinburgh and said the club will continue to build on his legacy.
Edinburgh died on Saturday aged 49, five days after a cardiac arrest.
McAnuff described the Orient manager as a “leader, a fantastic manager and a truly great man”.
“You’ve helped rebuild what was a broken club and been the driving force returning it to where it belongs,” the 27-year-old winger added.
Edinburgh, who won the FA Cup as a Tottenham player, managed Northampton Town, Gillingham and Newport County before moving to Orient in November 2017.
McAnuff said he was “a man who inspired so many of us with his drive, passion and sheer desire to win.”
“A man who had so much love for this game and even more for his family, my heart goes out to them at this tragic time,” he added.
The winger said Edinburgh “always did it with a smile on [his] face and with a huge respect for others”.
“I am so grateful that I got to share some truly amazing moments with you and know how much wining the league with this club meant to you,” he added.
“It was a privilege and an honour to serve as your captain and these happy memories will lie with me forever.
“You were always at the centre of all the jokes and the banter with the boys and staff, we had so many laughs and good times.
“You’ve helped rebuild what was a broken club and been the driving force returning it to where it belongs.
“That will be your legacy here and as difficult as it will be, it’s now up to us to carry that on and make sure all of that hard work is continued and built upon.”
‘They all bought in to Justin’s vision’
BBC London Leyton Orient correspondent Dave Victor – a supporter since 1971, who started reporting on the side in 1983:
“I don’t think we can still quite believe what has happened. It was only three weeks ago when there were over 23,000 Leyton Orient supporters at Wembley for the final of the FA Trophy, and although Leyton Orient missed out on that occasion, it didn’t really matter because everyone was there to celebrate Leyton Orient’s return back to the Football League.
“When Justin took over in December 2017, Leyton Orient were on course for what would have been their third relegation in four years, they had gone three months without a win. They didn’t get off to a good start under Justin, they lost their opening game, but Justin took responsibility immediately.
“He had an incredible impact on the club. And what is remarkable is Leyton Orient’s success was built on the squad that Justin inherited; virtually every player got better because of the way he inspired and changed the culture of the club.
“He was very committed to them; he was very loyal to his players; he was very critical of supporters that got on the back of individuals. He wasn’t just loyal to those in the side, often when I spoke to him after the game, he made a point of talking about the players who weren’t actually in the squad, but had still contributed to the success because of the way of which they had gone about their training.
“There was an integrity about Justin Edinburgh. There was a clarity about Justin Edinburgh. Everybody bought in and it felt as if it was just the beginning. You got the sense that it was the start of something special at Leyton Orient and Justin Edinburgh would have gone on to be a very successful manager in the Football League. But this is about reflecting on a man who had enormous passion and pride, and what he was proud of more than anything in football was his family and, of course, our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Fans pay their respects at Brisbane Road
Supporters laid flowers outside Leyton Orient’s home ground Brisbane Road on Sunday as they paid their respects to Edinburgh.
Floral tributes, signed football shirts and scarves were left as a mark of respect as both home supporters and fans from other clubs marked a solemn day for the east London club.
Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire say they have carried out 13 interviews under caution.
The Metropolitan Police would not confirm the number of people who had been interviewed but said more interviews were scheduled.
It added more than 7,100 statements had been taken from “witnesses, community and family members, emergency services personnel” and “other sources”.
The fire, which destroyed the London block on 14 June 2017, left 72 dead.
Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle was killed in the fire, said the interviews showed “some positive steps” were being taken.
Mr Mussilhy, who is vice chairman of the campaign group Grenfell United, added that “it would be interesting to find out” who had been interviewed.
Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, said it was “just what our community wanted to hear”.
Three interviews had been conducted under caution when police announced a “new phase” of their investigation in July last year.
However, police have said it could be the end of 2021 before criminal charges are considered.
The Met has said it wants to see the conclusions of the public inquiry’s second phase, which starts next year, before compiling a file of evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to look at.
Phase two will examine causes of the fire, including the use of cladding blamed for helping it to spread.
In 2017, police said they had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that corporate manslaughter offences had been committed.
Love Island star Mike Thalassitis left a notebook with messages to his family at the scene of his death, an inquest has heard.
The 26-year-old reality star and former footballer was found hanging in a park in Edmonton, north London, on 16 March.
His death sparked calls for improved aftercare for people who take part in reality TV shows.
North London Coroner’s Court concluded on Wednesday his cause of death was suicide.
Senior coroner Andrew Walker said Mr Thalassitis left messages “which clearly set out his intention that his life should come to an end”.
Former Love Island contestant Montana Brown said Mr Thalassitis had been in a “dark place” in the months before his death.
Toxicology results showed there was cocaine, ethanol and paracetamol in his system at the time of his death.
Love Island said it would be offering further support and “bespoke training” to contestants in future.