Man accused of murdering three-year-old had been 'smacking her for weeks'

A man accused of murdering a three year-old girl had been “smacking her for many weeks” before she died, his trial has heard.

Kaylee-Jayde Priest was aged three when she died. Photo: BBC
Kaylee-Jayde Priest was aged three when she died. Photo: BBC

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

Callum Redfern, 21, of Temple Street in Dudley and Priest, 22, of Poplar Avenue in Edgbaston are both accused of Kaylee-Jade’s murder and a separate charge of manslaughter.

At Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, prosecutor Andrew Smith QC questioned Priest about Redfern’s alleged conduct towards her daughter in the weeks before her death.

“By late July last year Redfern had been smacking Kaylee for many weeks,” said Mr Smith.

“Yes, that is what he said every time he went into her room,” replied Priest.

“He said ‘she has been naughty so I smacked her’. It got worse - he would constantly be in her room.”

The court was told that Priest heard her daughter screaming from being smacked but “did not know she was in pain”.

Mr Smith said that later, under police interview, Priest said she had heard Redfern hitting Kaylee-Jayde.

“It sounded like punching - that is what you heard isn’t it?” said Mr Smith.

“Yes,” Priest replied.

“Why did you not run to the bedroom?” said Mr Smith, "Why did you not say ‘stop hitting her’?”

“I said ‘stop smacking her’,” replied Priest.

“I could not tell him what to do. I was scared of him but I loved him – it was mixed emotions.”

The court heard that Kaylee-Jayde told her mother “Cal hit me”.

“You knew,” said Mr Smith.

“I did not know he had hit her,” said Priest. “I thought smacked.”

The trial has heard that Kaylee-Jayde died from serious chest and abdominal injuries.

Although Priest said she did not witness them she agreed that Kaylee-Jayde had received serious injuries in the weeks before her death.

These were a fracture of the sternum or breastbone four to six weeks prior to her death, two fractures to her right and left legs caused three to six weeks before, in late June to the middle of July an injury to her right jaw and seven to fourteen days before she died five fractures to her ribs on both sides.

“Do you agree that these injuries were caused by force?” said Mr Smith.

“Yes,” said Priest.

Earlier in the hearing Priest, who is also mother to a boy, admitted that parenting children can be difficult and she could become stressed.

“I was stressed at times yes,” she said.

“What mum is not stressed at times?”

On July 23 last year Priest sent a text to Redfern saying “I’m going to kill her”.

Priest said that Kaylee kept leaving the living room and going in the cupboards in the kitchen.

The court heard she then sent a text to Redfern saying “I have paled her one and smacked her” and that he replied “Good, give her one from me”.

“Which I never did,” said Priest.

“What was your reply,” said Mr Smith.

“I will babes – it did not mean I did it.”

Redfern and Priest deny Kaylee-Jade’s murder, a separate alternative charge of manslaughter and a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child and cruelty to a child, between June 12 and August 3, 2020.

The trial continues.

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