Man jailed for 25 years for murdering partner’s two-year-old son, who was treated ‘like a punchbag’


A 28-year-old man has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years after he was found guilty of murdering his partner’s two-year-old son Kyrell Matthews.

Kyrell was found in cardiac arrest at his home in London in October 2019, with 41 rib fractures from being “crushed or broken by blows” and a 1.6 inch cut to his liver caused by blunt force trauma.

Kemar Brown was found guilty of murder earlier this month and has today been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Kemar Brown, 28, of Thornton Heath, who has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murder of two-year-old Kyrell Matthews. Issue date: Friday March 4, 2022.
Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Phylesia Shirley, 24, of Thornton Heath, who was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in London, following the death of her two-year-old son, Kyrell Matthews. Issue date: Friday March 4,
Kemar Brown has been sentenced to 25 years, while Phylesia Shirley has been jailed for 13 years

Kyrell’s mother, 24-year-old Phylesia Shirley, was found guilty of manslaughter and has received a 13-year sentence.

Shirley’s son was non-verbal and suffered regular beatings in the months leading up to his death.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran said the toddler was treated “like a punchbag in the gym” by Brown, who would hurt the child “almost for fun”, calling him over while he was watching TV, “insisting he came closer, only to then be heard beating him”.

The case against Brown was helped by recordings believed to have been set up by Shirley at their home in Thornton Heath, south London, to check if Brown was seeing other women but instead captured the sound of her son being abused.

In one harrowing recording, Brown is heard telling Kyrell “you have to ruin the fun” and to “shut up” during an assault.

Another recording captured Shirley hitting her son causing him to cry and Edward Brown QC, prosecuting, told the jury at the Old Bailey during the trial that she put her relationship with Brown above her own child.

Handout image dated 19/09/19 issued by the Metropolitan Police of a still from phone video footage of two-year-old Kyrell Matthews with his mother Phylesia Shirley, 24 during his second birthday celebrations, found on his mother's phone. Shirley and her then-boyfriend Kemar Brown, 28, of separate addresses in Thornton Heath have been found guilty of killing the two-year-old boy at the Old Bailey in London, after their horrific abuse was captured on secret mobile phone recordings. Issue date: Fri
Kyrell’s mother was found guilty of manslaughter

“The truth is that his death came when once more he was abused in that flat, once more in a very similar way, causing very similar injuries, except on this occasion it was so much more serious, the abuse and the results were catastrophic,” Mr Brown said.

On the day Kyrell died, Shirley called 111, telling the operator: “Basically Kyrell has been acting really funny. Like, his body is flopping, and his eyes is rolling back and his chest is not breathing.”

Paramedics described Shirley as “hysterical” when they arrived and said she cried and fell to the floor at one moment, while Brown was described as showing little emotion, and holding back on his phone as Kyrell was bought into hospital.

The court heard that Shirley was also being emotionally and physically abused by Brown and lawyers argued she was “vulnerable” and her confidence was being “eroded” by Brown, who would follow her “like a shadow”.

Kyrell didn’t go to nursery and neither Shirley nor Brown were working in the months leading up to his death.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Samatha Yelland says that from June 2019 onwards the couple were “retreating, weren’t seeing people or attending medical appointments” because Kyrell was no longer a baby and could have shown the pain he was suffering to other family members.

“He was a two-year-old child and both his carers inflicted this violence upon him and he wasn’t able to do anything to prevent it,” Ms Yelland said.

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