Toddler fed food and juice while unconscious, murder trial told

Kyrell Matthews Pic: PA Media

Two-year-old Kyrell Matthews from Croydon was fed cornflakes, juice and sweets while unconscious by his mother’s partner, the Old Bailey heard on Monday.

His mother, Phylesia Shirley, and her partner Kemar Brown, are on trial for the murder of Shirley’s young child in October 2019, and deny the charges made against them.

Kyrell who was non-verbal, died at his home in Thornton Heath with serious injuries including crushed ribs and a 4cm wide cut to the liver.

He was subject to serious abuse in the weeks leading up to his death. Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors: “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. On October 20, his ribs were crushed once more. It killed him.”

Shirley dialled 111 for advice instead of 999 when her son’s body was “going floppy”, the Old Bailey heard.

Shirley blamed the NHS’s 111 service for the death of her son, claiming she was given bad advice when trying to revive him, being told not to be “afraid to push too hard”.

Defending Shirley and Brown, Mark McDonald QC told jurors at the trial to “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”.

Paramedics arrived 12 minutes after the call and took over CPR before rushing the child to hospital. Jurors were told: “Kyrell was rushed to Croydon University Hospital and despite extensive efforts by medical staff to revive him, they could not do so, and life was pronounced extinct at 16:15.

“As you have heard, at no time were they able to restore any heartbeat. He had died at the flat.”

Police spoke to Brown about what had happened before the emergency services arrived. Footage from the body-worn camera of one of the police officers showed Brown saying “It was like he was having nightmares.

“We didn’t know what was going on, we were watching as he was like, laying down.”

Brown then told the officer that he tried to “feed Kyrell cornflakes, juice and sweets to help him wake up” as he lay unconscious.

He said: “’It’s crazy, it’s crazy, it’s crazy. He was just lying down, we thought he was tired, sleeping, lazy really.”

Court sketch of Phylesia Shirley and Kemar Brown Pic: PA Media

A recording of the phone call revealed that Shirley was talking in a “comparatively calm” manor at the beginning of the phone call, becoming increasingly distressed as an NHS clinical advisor gave her directions for CPR and turning “hysterical” when Kyrell was declared dead.

Descriptions of Brown’s demeanour, however, were described by the prosecution as “those of a calm person slightly disengaged, somewhat unaffected”.

The CCTV at the hospital showed him scrolling through his mobile while A&E doctors were fighting to save Kyrell’s life.

Following the initial investigation, police examined a large amount of telephone data over several months and found audio files on Shirley’s mobile.

The recordings, taken secretly in an attempt to catch Brown being unfaithful, inadvertently captured details of Kyrell being physically and verbally abused, the prosecution revealed.

The prosecution said the recordings include what appears to be Kyrell being hit repeatedly, with Brown telling him to “shut up” and the toddler screaming and crying.

Other recordings, the prosecution said, repeatedly captured Shirley striking her child and causing him to cry in distress.

In one recording, the prosecution said “slapping sounds” and “hitting noises” were present as Kyrell could be heard getting into an increasing state of upset. Shirley could then be heard asking: “What did he do?”, to which Brown responded: “He got up”.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC described the audio as “difficult listening”.

Shirley denies murder but has admitted allowing the death of a child and allowing serious physical harm to a child. Brown denies murder, causing or allowing the death of a child and allowing serious physical harm to a child.

The trial continues.

Leave a Reply