August 2021

Mother and partner blamed each other for death of child

A woman and her then-boyfriend have been found guilty of killing her three-year-old daughter, after a court heard the child had suffered a long-running catalogue of physical abuse.

Kaylee-Jayde Priest was found dead at the flat in Solihull where she lived with her mother, Nicola, on 9 August 2020.

Kaylee-Jayde, who was described in court as a “happy child”, died from serious chest and abdominal injuries.

A jury at Birmingham crown court heard the series of historical injuries the girl had suffered, including broken ribs, lower leg fractures and a broken sternum.

Nicola Priest, 23, and her then partner, Callum Redfern, 22, blamed each other during the trial, but were in a “close sexual relationship” at the time of the killing.

Priest had rung 999, but a judge was told that Kaylee-Jayde had been “dead before the call was made”.

Both Priest and Redfern were unanimously cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter on Thursday.

Details of the abuse suffered by Kaylee-Jayde were read out in court. Priest would hit her daughter around the head and refer to her as a “fucking brat”, and Kaylee-Jayde was heard crying “in a fearful tone”.

The jury heard how those living nearby heard bangs, shouts and crying.

Neighbours living beneath Priest’s flat said that “when Kaylee cried, the response appeared to be to drown out her crying with music”.

The court was told that neighbours heard Priest shouting “with real regularity” at her child, including comments like “shut up”, “go away” or “leave me alone” – and “never anything positive or kind”.

In a text message exchange between Priest and Redfern on 24 July 2020, weeks before Kaylee-Jayde was killed, Priest told him: “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.”

Andrew Smith QC, prosecuting, said the messages showed an “uncaring attitude from Priest and Redfern” towards the child.

The court was played CCTV footage which showed Kaylee-Jayde and her mother in a lift in the hours before she died. It showed the child looking up at her mother, who looked disinterested and checked her reflection in the mirror, PA Media reported.

At no point in the footage was there any physical contact between the pair.

Priest was also found guilty of cruelty to a child, relating to historical injuries, but Redfern was cleared of that charge.

In a statement released afterwards, Kaylee-Jayde’s grandmother Debbie Windmill said her death would live with her for the rest of her life.

Windmill 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.”

Callous Priest and Redfern both blamed each other for the injuries inflicted.

But a jury saw through their lies and found they were both responsible for the death of Kaylee Jayde-Priest

Priest, of Edgbaston, Birmingham, and Redfern of Dudley, West Midlands, will be sentenced on Friday.