An ‘uncaring’ mother and her boyfriend who sent each other text messages about killing her daughter in the days before she died have been locked up for a combined total of 29 years.
Nicola Priest and Callum Redfern killed three-year-old Kaylee-Jayde Priest when her cries disturbed the couple as they tried to have sex, Birmingham Crown Court heard on Friday (August 6).
Kaylee-Jayde was found dead at the Solihull flat where she lived with her mother on August 9 last year, days after Priest sent a text threatening to kill the child.
The “lively and happy child” died from serious chest and abdominal injuries inflicted on her during a “ferocious” assault, the court heard.
Experts said her wounds were similar to those of a child hit by a car at 40mph, or from falling three floors onto a concrete floor.
Priest, 23, and Redfern, 22, were convicted of the child’s manslaughter on Thursday (August 5) after being unanimously cleared of murder.
Kaylee-Jayde Priest, three, who died after being fatally injured in an assault at her home
Sentencing the pair on Friday (August 6), Mr Justice Foxton QC said: “Kaylee was put to bed some time around 7pm, while the two of you went to have sex in Nicola Priest’s bedroom.
“But like many children her age, Kaylee did not want to go to bed, but to stay up and play.”
He said there was no direct evidence as to what happened next, but that Kaylee subsequently vomited repeatedly, later dying of her injuries overnight.
The judge said: “The vomiting was the result of the severe beating you were both responsible for inflicting on her.
“No doubt irritated by Kaylee crying, asking to be let out, it interrupted the two of you when you wanted to have sex.
“You lost your tempers and were parties to the assault which cost Kaylee her life.
“A prompt call for medical assistance by one or the other of you would have saved Kaylee’s life.”
Medical examinations later showed Kaylee had also suffered historical injuries including broken ribs, lower leg fractures and a broken sternum.
Priest, of Poplar Avenue, Edgbaston, Birmingham, was jailed for 15 years; while Redfern, of Temple Street, Dudley, West Midlands, was jailed for 14 years.
Priest, who had no previous convictions and whom experts found had “a very low level of intelligence”, was also found guilty of cruelty to a child, relating to the youngster’s previous injuries.
At the trial, “infatuated” Priest and her lover Redfern, who the judge said was the “dominant” partner in the relationship, each blamed the other for Kaylee’s death.
Jurors had heard how Priest, who wore a yellow sweater and wept in the dock as she was jailed, would hit Kaylee around the head and refer to her as a “f****** brat”.
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On one occasion, neighbours in a flat below recalled hearing a bang above and then Kaylee crying, before allegedly hearing Priest say: “I’ll just say she fell off the bed.”
The same residents claimed they noticed that “when Kaylee cried, the response appeared to be to drown out her crying with music”.
In a text message exchange on July 24 last year, days before Kaylee’s death, Priest told Redfern: “I’m gonna kill her… because she keeps leaving the living room or going in the kitchen, so I’ve paled (hit) her one and smacked her for shitting in her nappy.”
Redfern said: “Good – give her one from me.”
Priest replied: “I will, babe.”
Three days later, Redfern messaged Priest saying: “I’m going to keep the little brat away from me… sick of your spunking daughter.”
Prosecutors said the messages painted a vivid picture of the “uncaring attitude from Priest and Redfern towards Kaylee”.
In his police interview, asked how Kaylee’s death had affected him, Redfern replied: “It’s not my child… it’s not really affected me.”
Priest, who was also jailed for three years to be served concurrently for the child cruelty offence, and Redfern must both serve two-thirds of their jail terms before they can be considered for release.
In a statement released through police after the verdicts, Kaylee’s grandmother Debbie Windmill said the impact of her death would live with her for the rest of her life.
She said: “I could never stop staring at the smile on her beautiful face.
“I loved every moment watching her develop to nearly school age; preparing to buy my first grandchild her pre-school uniform was something that filled me with such happiness.
“I couldn’t wait to see her in it, but this opportunity was stolen from me in the most brutal of ways.
“Everybody deserves the gift of life. Kaylee-Jayde deserved to show the world who she could have been and what greatness she could have brought to this world. Nanny will forever hold you in her heart.”
Detective Inspector Adam Jobson, of West Midlands Police, said: “This is a really horrific set of circumstances and I cannot imagine for one second what Kaylee-Jayde’s family must be going through, they’ve lost their three-year-old family member at the hands of her own mother and Nicky Priest’s boyfriend, Callum.
“It is a grim picture.
“I don’t think, sadly, we will ever fully know what has happened, we’ll never get that full picture, both have not admitted their own responsibility.
“One thing is clear, Nicky Priest has failed her daughter, she’s failed to protect her and she should be – being a mother to that little girl – the one person who should have been able to protect her.”