Mum and ex-partner jailed for killing her son after weeks of abuse


Phylesia Shirley, Kemar Brown and little Kyrell Matthews. 

A mum and her ex-partner have been jailed for killing her two-year-old son after months of abuse in their home in Thornton Heath, London.

The former couple were jailed on Friday, after facing trial at the Old Bailey earlier this month (Pictures: PA)

A mum and her ex-partner have been sentenced to a combined 40 years for the killing of her two-year-old son.

Phylesia Shirley, 24, and Kemar Brown, 28, subjected two-year-old Kyrell Matthews to weeks of relentless abuse before he died on October 20, 2019.

By the time of the toddler’s death, he had 41 rib fractures and internal bleeding from a 1.6 inch cut to his liver.

The fractures were caused by a twisting motion and the fatal liver injury was from a kick, punch or blow to the stomach, the Old Bailey heard.

Brown was found guilty of murder. Shirley was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

The pair were sentenced on Friday, with Brown jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years and Shirley given a 15-year term.

During the trial, investigators spoke out about how difficult it was to listen to the multiple recordings of Kyrell, who is non-verbal, being abused.


Kyrell Matthews smiling in the bath. 

A mum and her ex-partner have been jailed for killing her two-year-old son after months of abuse in their home in Thornton Heath, London.

Two-year-old Kyrell Matthews, who was non-verbal, was abused for weeks before he died (Picture: PA)

It is believed that Shirley had set up recording apps on a mobile phone to find out if Brown was seeing other women.

But she ended up gathering harrowing evidence against them.

Both adults could be heard hitting Kyrell on multiple occasions with Brown treating the little boy ‘like a punchbag in the gym’.

At one point, Brown is recorded telling Kyrell to ‘shut up’ leading him to cry and scream.

On another occasion, Brown hit the child several times and then told him: ‘You have to ruin the fun’.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC told the killer on Friday: ‘Those six words show your disregard for him and his life.’


Kemar Brown. 

A mum and her ex-partner have been jailed for killing her two-year-old son after months of abuse in their home in Thornton Heath, London.

Kemar Brown, 28, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison (Picture: PA)


Phylesia Shirley mugshot. 

A mum and her ex-partner have been jailed for killing her two-year-old son after months of abuse in their home in Thornton Heath, London.

Phylesia Shirley, 24, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison (Picture: PA)

Another recording caught Shirley striking her son and causing him to break down in distress.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors the mother put her relationship with Brown above her own child.

The couple, who were unemployed at the time of Kyrell’s death, 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.

Both defendants, from separate addresses in Thornton Heath, south London, declined to give evidence during trial, but the court heard Brown’s defence would be that the injuries inflicted were the result of incorrect advice from the operator on how to resuscitate Kyrell.


Multiple recordings revealed Kyrell getting hit and told to ‘shut up’ (Picture: PA)

Kyrell’s father Kyle Matthews paid tribute to his ‘happy, playful and loved little boy taken from us in the cruellest of ways’.

In a written statement read on Friday, he said the killing had left him racked with guilt for not being able to save his son, despite the court hearing the couple ‘conceal(ed)’ the abuse from family members.

‘We take comfort in the fact that Kyrell was very much loved by me and my family and I and we will carry him in our hearts forever,’ the statement said.

‘We have been left with a huge hole in our lives.’

Kyrell’s paternal grandfather Karl Matthews said the audio tapes left the family feeling the little boy had been ‘tortured’.

He added: ‘We really wish you all could have seen Kyrell as the little boy we loved who had such bright eyes and the most infectious smile.’

Passing sentence, Judge Lucraft said: ‘Many others looking from the outside into this case, and particularly those who desperately seek to have a family, will struggle to understand how those primarily responsible for this little boy’s nurture and day-to-day care can have acted so cruelly to take his life.

‘He was just a month over his second birthday when he was killed. The photographs and video clips show him to be a bright and bubbly little boy.’


The young man was not found with anything on him (Picture:@Officialcarterjruk/Tiktok)

Black man stopped and searched ‘for wearing several layers despite warm weather’

The judge described the recordings in their entirety as ‘harrowing and deeply upsetting’, and said there had been ‘an element of degradation and or sadistic behaviour’ towards the toddler.

‘You should have been caring for this two-year-old boy, not abusing him,’ he told Brown.

He also told Brown, who has multiple previous convictions, his conduct towards Kyrell had been ‘cruel and brutal’ and described the catalogue of injuries inflicted against the toddler as ‘truly shocking’.

He added it is clear that Shirley had taken part in the violence, telling her: ‘Any normal parent’s response is to love and protect their child. You did neither, and it really mattered.’

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