Kyrell Matthews: Mother and partner jailed for killing of two-year-old in abuse captured on phone

Kemar Brown and Phylesia Shirley subjected her two-year-old son, Kyrell, to weeks of cruelty.

A child killer who murdered his ex-girlfriend’s two-year-old son has been jailed for life after the couple’s horrific abuse was captured on secret recordings.

Kemar Brown has been jailed for a minimum term of 25 years for murdering Kyrell Matthews in Thornton Heath, Croydon.

The "defenceless" little boy was left with 41 rib fractures after after weeks of cruelty at the hands of his mother and her partner, before his death in October 2019.

Brown, 28, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, after being convicted of murder at a trial earlier this month.Kyrell's mother, Phylesia Shirley, 24, who was acquitted of murder but found guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter, was jailed for 13 years.

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.”

Kyrell Matthews was described as a “happy, smiley” child.

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.

“(Shirley) 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,” Mr Brown told jurors.

“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.”

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.

Kyrell Matthews was beaten by Brown at his home in Thornton Heath in Croydon

But the court heard Brown’s defence 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”.

Jurors were not told that police had been called to an earlier domestic incident but no offences were identified and Kyrell was said to have appeared “safe and well”.

A passer-by had alerted officers on July 17, 2019 after hearing shouting and screaming coming from their flat, with a female voice saying: “Stop hitting my face.”

It followed an attack in May 2019 when Kyrell suffered a significant injury to the side of his face and spent five days in Croydon University Hospital.

The hospital carried out an investigation and found Shirley’s explanation that the little boy had fallen off a sofa and hit his head on a highchair was “plausible”, police said.