The heartbroken father of a three-year-old girl murdered by his ex-partner’s boyfriend has spoken for the first time about the loss of his ‘little angel’.
Nigel Aaron, aged 29, spoke exclusively to The Star after his little girl’s killer was jailed for life by a judge at Sheffield Crown Court.
Delroy Catwell, aged 31, of Beck Road, Shiregreen, must serve at least 20 years behind bars for subjecting Lylah Aaron to a sustained and brutal beating which left her with fatal brain damage, broken ribs and bruises all over her body.
Tearful Nigel said today: “To have your daughter taken away from you by another human being is bad enough – but then to find out how she died and what she had to go through.
“She was such an innocent soul.”
In court Catwell tried to blame Lylah’s death on her loving mother, trainee nurse Precious Chibanda.
Nigel said: “When he tried to blame Precious, well, I haven’t got the words. It just broke me. It was just wrong. She loved Lylah to bits and it makes my blood boil.”
Nigel said he met Miss Chibanda on a night out in Sheffield, and they had a short relationship during which time she fell pregnant with Lylah.
By the time Lylah was born in 2009 the couple had separated, but Nigel was present for her birth and maintained contact with his daughter.
Recalling the moment she was born at the Jessop Hospital in Sheffield, he said: “Lylah was my first born.
“I was scared and I had never experienced parenthood, but when she was born it was so amazing.”
Nigel, an engineer, saw Lylah regularly and when his second daughter Nigella, now two, arrived the girls became close.
“They were best buddies,” said Nigel.
“I used to speak to Lylah on the phone and she would always be asking for Ella.”
On the day Lylah died Nigel, who lives in Nottingham, was working at a call centre in Derby.
He said: “After I finished I had a text from Precious telling me to call because Lylah was not well and she was at the hospital.
“I drove up and I was panicking all the way. I didn’t know she was seriously ill. “Only two days before she had been singing on the phone to me.
“I got to the hospital and there were police officers downstairs. I was taken to a private room where Keith, Precious’s brother, was waiting.
“He told me she wasn’t well and he was breaking down. I was in so much shock.”
Nigel went to see Lylah – and he was with Precious when their daughter’s life support machine was turned off later the same night.
“It was just horrible,” he said. “At that point I had no idea he was responsible.
“Then I heard Delroy had been arrested. I had all these questions running through my head and I was just thinking, ‘My God, what has happened?’.”
Nigel said a few days later Catwell was charged with murder.
“I was so angry. I just couldn’t believe someone could do that to someone else,” he said.
“I had met this guy. I had no idea he was capable of anything like that.”
Speaking about life without Lylah, Nigel said: “It’s so hard. Words can’t describe it.
“She was amazing, bubbly, full of life and she loved running about.
“She was a little angel, she got along with everyone.
“It haunts me.
“I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions. I’ve not been able to eat or sleep.
“I am glad justice has been served but it’s not going to bring Lylah back. It is just so unfair.”
Nigel also urged single mothers to be wary of bringing new men into their children’s lives.
He said: “I know it’s hard being a single mum, but I would urge women to be careful.
“I know it’s hard and love is blind but you just don’t know what people are capable of. “Our kids are worth more than anything in this world, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what we have been through.”