A mother who hid the body of a baby boy who was last seen more than a decade ago has been sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment for preventing his lawful burial.
Victoria Gayle, 32 (06.09.1984) appeared on bail on Friday, 17 March, at Kingston Crown Court, where she was sentenced.
She had previously appeared at the same court on 21 December 2016 for a 'fitness to plea' hearing where she entered a guilty plea. She pleaded not guilty to the offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice and these offences will lie on file.
Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) launched an investigation in May 2016 into the disappearance of Victoria's son, Kyzer Gayle.
Concerns about Kyzer's whereabouts were escalated during the course of a case review which was looking into the death of Victoria's daughter Ava at an address in Barnet in 2015, which the Coroner ruled as accidental.
Little was known about Kyzer, and enquiries established that he was last seen in 2004. On 31 May 2016, detectives found the remains of a child.
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, who led the investigation, said:
"This has been a very complex and at times very distressing investigation for all concerned. Kyzer Gayle was not seen for over a decade and Victoria Gayle admitted preventing lawful burial when faced with compelling evidence.
"It has now been concluded that the skeletal remains are those of Kyzer.
"We have pushed boundaries forensically, with scientists developing new techniques centred on fingerprints, which allowed us to obtain the strong and overwhelming evidence required.
"Whilst Victoria Gayle has been sentenced today our work by no means stops here. It is only right, after this child was denied a dignified burial that we continue with our investigation. I remain committed to establishing the circumstances around how Kyzer died."
Following a referral to the Homicide and Major Crime Command, detectives attended an address in Fryent Crescent, NW9 at around 07:00hrs on 30 May 2016 and began an extensive search of the property.
At the address, a 51-year-old woman [A] was arrested in connection with the investigation. Victoria Gayle, who was not present, was located in Luton and initially arrested on suspicion of murder.
Initially, Victoria claimed that Kyzer's father was a traveller whom she met through a friend and, when Kyzer was around ten months old, it was decided that this man should retain full custody.
She told police that this was the last time she saw her son and she had no further contact with the man.
The police investigation established that she had told friends and family who enquired about Kyzer's whereabouts that he was now living with his father but at no point did she ever state who this man was.
As the search at Fryent Crescent entered a second day, specialist police search officers made a significant find in one of several garden sheds.
Located in the shed was a cardboard box and inside this box officers found a cocoon of duct tape which contained the remains of a child aged around 14 months at the time of his death. The child was seated in a cut down push chair.
On 2 June 2016, Victoria Gayle and the 51-year-old woman were further arrested on suspicion of preventing a lawful and decent burial and a 53-year-old man [C] was also arrested for the same offence. Victoria Gayle was later charged as above.
A post-mortem examination took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital on 2 June 2016, and the cause of death could not be determined. Further tests were unable to establish exactly how the child died and enquiries continue.
In light of the ongoing enquiries, detectives have taken the unusual step of appealing for information and for witnesses to come forward following today's sentencing.
They are keen to trace anyone who might be able to assist them in building a picture as to where Victoria Gayle was living and the relationships she was in, no matter how casual, between 2004 and May 2013.
DCI McHugh continued: "Sentencing usually signals the end of the investigation but given the circumstances of this case there is still so much more we have yet to establish and understand, and it is only right that we continue to seek answers.
"I cannot stress enough how important it is for anyone who has had past contact with Victoria Gayle to speak to us, so that we can try to determine what has happened since Kyzer's birth. Importantly we are keen to establish her movements and where she lived, in particular the period between August 2007 and May 2013 and any siblings Kyzer had.
"I am also keen to identify any former partners, and I am directly appealing to anyone who had a relationship with Victoria Gayle or lived with her to come forward. We understand some may be hesitant in approaching us, but I would like to reassure you that at this stage our intention is to piece together what has happened over the years."
A 51-year-old woman [A] and a 53-year-old man [C] arrested will have no further action taken against them.
A 38-year old man [D] arrested on Friday, 16 September 2016 on suspicion of preventing a lawful burial and perverting the course justice remains on bail until a date in mid-April pending further enquiries.
The investigation continues to be led by Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh from the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) and detectives continue to work closely with a number of partner agencies.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8785 8099 or police via 101 and @MetCC.
To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.