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A man has been jailed for at least 25 years for murder his partner’s two-year-old son in south London.
Kyrell Matthews was left with 41 rib fractures when he died in October 2019.
28 year old Kemar Brown was convicted of his murder – while the boy’s mother 24 year old Phylesia Shirley will serve 13 years for manslaughter.
The pair appeared alongside each other in the dock on Friday.
The toddler, who was non-verbal, could be heard crying and screaming on distressing audio files taken from Shirley’s phone and played to jurors during the trial.
Multiple recordings taken over the final weeks of his life picked up the sound of Kyrell being hit repeatedly, with Brown saying: “Shut up”, and: “You have to ruin the fun.”
Another recording caught Shirley striking her son and causing him to break down in distress.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors that the mother put her relationship with Brown above her own child.
The couple, who were unemployed at the time of Kyrell’s murder, were both cannabis users and are understood to have been visited by social services at least once.
In a 111 call made after Kyrell collapsed at home on October 20 2019, Shirley sobbed as she was told by a clinical adviser to use both hands and “push down fast” and “go for it”.
Both defendants, from separate addresses in Thornton Heath, declined to give evidence during trial, but the court heard Brown’s defense was that the injuries inflicted were the result of incorrect advice from the operator on how to resuscitate Kyrell.
Paying tribute to Kyrell outside court after the couple were convicted, his paternal step-grandmother Christine Ernest said he was “the most loving little boy, always smiling”.
In a statement Kyrell’s family said:
“Kyrell – you were robbed of the life God had intended for you. Our family have been robbed of the joys of watching your grow up and seeing what you would have become. You have left a void in our hearts that will never be filled. We carry you in our hearts forever. ”
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran, of the Met’s Specialist Crime, said:
“This was a horrific case and the injuries inflicted on Kyrell were truly appalling. It is impossible to understand how someone can brutalize a child in this way. This was not some sudden loss of temper – these injuries show that the abuse of Kyrell went on and on. It was during one final brutal assault that Kyrell’s sad, short life was brought to an end.
“Today his mother and her boyfriend had been sentenced for their part in Kyrell’s death. Frankly I find it hard to understand how they could have committed such appalling acts on a defenseless child. A jury has quite rightly found both Shirley and Brown culpable for Kyrell’s ill-treatment – they will now face the consequences.
Investigating the death of a child is never easy, but the scale of Kyrell’s injuries and the fact that many of the assaults had been recorded made this an especially distressing case. My team had to listen repeatedly to the sound of Kyrell being beaten and abused, I know how much this has affected them. I want to pay tribute to their resilience and their determination to ensure those responsible for Kyrell’s death were convicted. ”
Samantha Yelland, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“This was a violent, determined and repeated pattern of assaults against a defenseless young child. Kyrell Matthews would have been in significant discomfort in the days before his death, and tragically he would have died in pain. As a mother, Phylesia Shirley should have protected him, but instead along with her partner, she subjected him to countless assaults in their own home.
“Jurors were presented with harrowing audio recordings of what took place in the home with both Brown and Shirley clearly involved in the physical abuse of the young toddler. I hope these convictions have brought some sense of justice to those who loved and cared for Kyrell. ”
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