Kyrell Matthews, two, was found to have 41 rib fractures as well as internal bleeding and a four centimetre cut to his liver – his mum Phylesia Shirley and her former partner Kemar Brown both deny murder
A woman accused of murdering her two-year-old son inadvertently recorded her co-defendant boyfriend allegedly hitting the little boy in “harrowing” audio clips played to jurors.
Kyrell Matthews, who was non-verbal, was found to have 41 rib fractures by the time he died in October 2019, as well as internal bleeding and a four centimetre cut to his liver.
Prosecutors say Kyrell was repeatedly struck by his mum Phylesia Shirley, 24, and her then-partner, Kemar Brown, 28, over several weeks, with secret audio recordings capturing the alleged violence.
In one of the recordings, Brown is heard saying “you have to ruin the fun” during an assault in Shirley’s one-bedroom flat in South London, prosecutors said.
The pair deny murder.
Shirley is said to have carried out the covert phone recordings at her one-bedroom flat to check whether Brown was secretly contacting other women.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors at the Old Bailey: “Kyrell had his ribs crushed or broken by blows within the four weeks before October 20.
“At least one of the defendants plainly inflicted a significant number of injuries in at least five separate incidents in the four weeks leading up to … Kyrell’s death.
“The pain and distress in those four weeks when he was abused was brought vividly to the fore by those harrowing recordings.
“On October 20, his ribs were crushed once more – it killed him.”
Police later found the secret audio files on Shirley’s mobile phone, which were apparent attempts of the mum trying to catch Brown being unfaithful, but inadvertently captured the abuse, the prosecution said.
They included multiple audio files where it appeared Kyrell was hit repeatedly, with Brown saying “shut up”, causing the toddler to cry and scream.
Prosecutors say on another occasion that Brown inflicted several blows on the little boy before telling him: “You have to ruin the fun.”
Another file captured Shirley striking her own child and causing him to cry in distress, the prosecution told the court.
The prosecutor said Shirley wanted to remain in a relationship with her partner, despite knowing he was abusing her son.
He said: “Indeed, you may well conclude that she joined in the abuse.
“She was prepared to reject what should have been motherly care in protecting Kyrell in favour of abuse by her – his own mother – and in favour of the abuse carried out by a man she knew was abusing her child.
“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.”
Jurors heard that the toddler did not attend a nursery and so was in the full-time care of his mother, then aged 21, and that neither defendant was employed in the period leading up to Kyrell’s death.
Both defendants claim they left the flat at separate times, briefly, the day Kyrell died, although only Shirley’s account could be corroborated by CCTV.
Both Shirley and Brown, of separate addresses in Thornton Heath, South London, deny murder.
Brown also denies two further charges – causing or allowing death, and causing or allowing serious physical harm to a child.
Mark McDonald, for Brown, told jurors his client’s case will be that the injuries inflicted were the result of incorrect advice from NHS 111 on how to resuscitate the boy.
Shirley has admitted allowing the death and allowing serious physical harm to a child.
The trial continues.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.