4th March, 2022 5:43 pm
A mother and her now ex-partner have been found guilty of killing her son after weeks of violent abuse.
Kyrell Matthews, aged two, was found in cardiac arrest at a home in Thornton Heath, south London, in October 2019.
He had 41 rib fractures when he died, which his mother Phylesia Shirley, 24, said were caused when she gave him CPR.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Shirley was convicted of manslaughter and Kemar Brown was found guilty of murder.
Sentencing has been adjourned to 25 March.
Addressing Shirley, Mr Justice Lucraft QC said the court had had to listen to recordings she made of the abuse meted out to a “defenceless” young boy.
“You should feel utterly ashamed by what you have done,” he told her.
Jurors heard harrowing audio recordings, covertly made by Shirley to see if Brown was cheating on her, which captured the violence.
During the trial, the prosecution told jurors Kyrell had suffered the injuries in at least five incidents in the four weeks before his death.
The court heard Shirley had called NHS 111 after Kyrell became “floppy” at her flat on 20 October 2019.
She performed two-handed CPR for several minutes after phoning the non-emergency helpline.
Mr Brown’s defence claimed the injuries were the result of incorrect advice to Shirley about how to resuscitate the little boy.
At the time of his death, Kyrell, who was non-verbal, also had internal bleeding and a 1.6in (4cm) cut to his liver.
In the audio files recorded by his mother, Kyrell could be heard being hit repeatedly, with Brown saying “shut up”, causing the toddler to cry and scream.
On one occasion, Brown inflicted several blows on the little boy before telling him: “You have to ruin the fun.”
Another recording captured Shirley striking her son and causing him to cry in distress.
The trial heard that a passer-by had alerted officers on 17 July 2019 after hearing shouting and screaming coming from their flat, with a female voice saying: “Stop hitting my face.”
It followed an incident 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 to be “plausible”.
It can now be reported that Brown has convictions for robbery, battery, having a knife, drugs and resisting a police officer, as well as being subject to a non-molestation order relating to a former partner.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors that Shirley had put her relationship with Brown above the needs of her own child.
He said: “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.”
Shirley and Brown both declined to give evidence in their defence.
Det Ch Insp Kate Kieran said the audio recordings were “harrowing” and had affected her whole team.
“We all choose to become part of the murder investigation team but I’ve never, ever uncovered evidence like this in one of these cases,” she said.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Samantha Yelland said: “It’s been a horrific case for us all to work on.
“The two people who were supposed to look after him the most were those that caused injury, and in the end his death.”
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