Mother and ex-boyfriend convicted of killing her daughter, three, days after she threatened to do so in text message

An “uncaring” mother and her former boyfriend have been found guilty of killing her three-year-old daughter, days after she threatened to do so in a text message.

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

The 23-year-old rang 999 but a jury convicted her after hearing the youngster had been “dead before the call was made”.

Priest and her former partner Callum Redfern, 22, were unanimously cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the youngster died from chest and abdominal injuries and had previously suffered broken ribs, lower leg fractures and a broken sternum.

Jurors had heard how Priest would hit Kaylee around the head and refer to her as a “f****** brat”, while the child was also heard crying “in a fearful tone”.

Neighbours in a flat below at Kingshurst House, Solihull, once heard a bang above and then Kaylee crying, before allegedly hearing her mother say: “I’ll just say she fell off the bed.”

The same residents claimed music was used to drown out the sound of Kaylee’s crying.

In a text message exchange on 24 July 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 sh****** in her nappy.”

Redfern said: “Good – give her one from me.”

Priest replied: “I will, babe.”

Three days later Redfern messaged Priest: “I’m going to keep the little brat away from me… sick of your…daughter.”

Prosecutors said the exchanges were evidence of the “uncaring attitude from Priest and Redfern towards Kaylee”.

Barrister Andrew Smith QC argued that the injuries that killed Kaylee were the result of an intentional “sustained assault” that “occurred when both of the defendants were alone with Kaylee-Jayde” on 8 August.

The defendants tried to blame each other during their trial despite being in a “close sexual relationship” at the time of Kaylee’s death.

Neighbours told the jury they heard Priest “shouting with real regularity” at Kaylee, including comments like “Shut up”, “Go away” or “Leave me alone” – and “never anything positive or kind”.

CCTV shown to the court showed Kaylee and her mother just hours before her death, with Priest appearing disinterested in her daughter.

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

Speaking afterwards, Detective Inspector Adam Jobson said: “I don’t think, sadly, we will ever fully know what has happened.”

Kaylee’s grandmother Debbie Windmill said she will “forever hold” the child in her heart.

She said: “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.”

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

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