A two-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten to death by his mum and her boyfriend was subject to physical abuse in the weeks and months leading up to his death, a court has heard.
A jury at the Old Bailey today (January 19) was played evidence of how defenceless Kyrell Matthews, 2, was treated by mum Phylesia Shirley, 24, and her now ex-boyfriend Kemar Brown, 28, over a sustained period in 2019.
Shirley and Brown are on trial accused of his murder. Both deny beating the infant to death but Shirley has pleaded guilty to the offence of allowing the death of a child, the jury has heard.
Audio footage was played to the court today in which baby Kyrell could be heard crying and screaming out, even breathless at points, as he was apparently ‘hit and slapped’ repeatedly.
A sketch by court artist of Shirley and Brown, who have been charged with murder and causing or allowing the death of baby Kyrell
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Paramedics were called to the family home just before 3pm on October 20, 2019, to find Kyrell dying, just a month and a day after his second birthday. Despite the efforts of medical staff, they were unable to save him.
Audio footage was subsequently found on Shirley’s phone, after she had set it up to record what might be going on in the flat when she was out – or out of earshot.
It is suspected, the court heard, that she was ‘checking up on her boyfriend to see if he was contacting other women’.
In one particular incident played to the court, from July 13, 2019, Brown could be heard telling Kyrell: “No more crying, stop, stop crying” and “What you crying for?”. He can be heard repeating this again and again, but louder.
The court then heard what sounded like a slapping noise on the recording before Brown mocks the child’s cry.
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A minute later, Brown tells the toddler to ‘come here’ which is followed by the sound of a slap, making Kyrell cry even louder.
Shirley could also be heard throughout a number of different clips. However, while the audio clips were being played in court, she left the courtroom – accompanied by a female police officer.
The judge, recorder of London Mark Lucraft, later told the court that he had previously agreed to allow her to leave the courtroom.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police has said that the recordings are too graphic to be released to the public.
Throughout the recordings, Kyrell could be heard being told to “shut up” by both defendants, and on one occasion was heard apparently being hit seven or eight times in the space of around 10 seconds.
Kyrell did not attend a nursery and so was in the full-time care of Shirley, while Brown however spent almost all of his time at her one bed flat on Chancellor Court in Thornton Heath.
The trial continues tomorrow (January 20) at 1030am at the Old Bailey
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told the court: “Kyrell was rushed to Croydon University Hospital in South London, but his heart was not beating at any point while medical staff tried to save him. He died at the flat.
“This was no less than a pattern of consistent, very significant and very painful abuse.”
But defence lawyer Marck McDonald told the court that his team will argue that it was the CPR administered to Kyrell that killed him – not the abuse that he suffered.
Speaking directly to the jurors, he pleaded: “I would ask that you keep an open mind when examining the facts of this case.
“When Phylesia Shirley was advised to start administering CPR by the 111 operator, this was wrong advice.
“Miss Shirley was advised to push down as hard as she can on a two-year-old’s chest.”
MyLondon reported yesterday how a post-mortem examination revealed baby Kyrell was found with 39 rib fractures and a lacerated liver.
Jurors heard today that medical evidence will show in due course how some of the fractures were beginning to heal, while others appeared fairly recently.
According to the prosecution, this showed that the injuries were inflicted between two hours and a maximum of 4 weeks prior to death, over multiple time frames.
Both defendants have denied murdering Kyrell, while Brown has also denied the second charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.
The court was also told how in September 2019 – a month before his death – Kyrell’s grandparents looked after him one night.
They later told police officers that he didn’t seem to be himself – it was reported that ‘he wouldn’t settle, he wouldn’t eat, and he whined all night and was much quieter than usual’.
And the same thing happened in October, but on this occasion Kyrell was reluctant to get out of the car to go back into his mother’s flat.
The trial resumes tomorrow at the Old Bailey, where evidence is expected to be heard from multiple witnesses and medical professionals.
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