09 August 2021

Brother admits killing MMA fighter at birthday party

09 August 2021

The brother of a British champion mixed martial artist has admitted stabbing him to death as he celebrated his 30th birthday.

Jahreau Shepherd, nicknamed The Nightmare, was hacked to death by 19-year-old Dwight Freeman as he partied with friends in Kennington, south London, on July 11 last year.

Freeman, who was Mr Shepherd’s half-brother, fled to Newquay in Cornwall where he was spotted five days later.

Last month, Freeman, from Vauxhall, south London, pleaded guilty to Mr Shepherd’s manslaughter by diminished responsibility and wounding 26-year-old Joel Belgrave with intent.

On Monday, he appeared in the dock of the Old Bailey to be sentenced by Judge Richard Marks QC.

Friends and family had filled the courtroom as prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC outlined the facts of the case.

She told the court that Mr Shepherd was an “accomplished” MMA fighter who lived with his mother and half-brother, who was known as DJ.

Mr Shepherd acted like a father figure to his younger sibling because he wanted him to “fix up and be better” and stop smoking skunk cannabis, the court was told.

In the six months before the killing, the defendant suffered mood swings and had “terrified” his mother when she woke up to find him staring at her at the foot of the bed.

On the evening of July 11, Mr Shepherd held a birthday party and barbecue in a park, having told around 60 guests the dress code was to wear white.

At around 10pm, numerous friends looked on as Freeman, in black and with his hood up, carried out a “terrifying, sustained and unprovoked attack with a large knife or knives”, Ms Carberry said.

The weapons were variously described by eyewitnesses as a machete, Samurai swords and a Zombie knife.

One eyewitness heard Mr Shepherd appear to tell off the defendant who then hit him several times with a machete.

Mr Shepherd was heard to say: “I love you. What are you doing?”

He held his hands up as he appealed to his brother, saying: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t do this,” the court was told.

Mr Shepherd suffered 13 wounds including to his back, shoulder, thigh, face and stomach, with the two fatal injuries being around 19cm deep.

The court heard that since he had been in custody, psychiatrists diagnosed Freeman with paranoid schizophrenia.

Giving evidence, Dr Emmanuel Okoro said: “In my opinion, having interviewed the defendant on several occasions and carefully reviewed his records while in custody and during his treatment at Broadmoor (hospital) and having extensively interviewed his mother, I am completely convinced he does suffer from severe mental illness, namely paranoid schizophrenia, and that played a significant part in the offenses as listed and therefore requires treatment in hospital.”

Judge Marks is expected to sentence Freeman later.

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