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10 Aug, 2021 15:12

British MMA fighter’s half-brother detained indefinitely after admitting to stabbing him to death at his 30th birthday party

British MMA fighter’s half-brother detained indefinitely after admitting to stabbing him to death at his 30th birthday party

The half-brother of a former British MMA champion, who a court heard acted as a 'father figure' to his killer, will be "detained indefinitely" after admitting to stabbing the Londoner to death at his 30th birthday last summer.

Nicknamed 'The Nightmare' in the octagon, Shepherd was hacked to death by his 19-year-old half-sibling, Dwight Freeman, on July 11 last year in the south London suburb of Kennington.

Freeman went on the run to Newquay to evade arrest, but was spotted in the popular Cornwall tourist destination five days later.

In July this year, Freeman pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Shepherd by diminished responsibility, as well as wounding another man who suffered a punctured lung, 26-year-old Joel Belgrave, with intent.

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Yesterday, Freeman appeared at the Old Bailey to receive his sentence from Judge Richard Marks, with friends and family gathered in the courtroom while fellow official Caroline Carberry gave an outline of the tragic case's facts.

Carberry told the court how Shepherd was an "accomplished" MMA brawler who had lived with his mother and Freeman, and whose nickname was DJ.

The court also heard that Shepherd acted as a father figure to his killer and wanted Freeman to "fix up and be better" while stopping smoking cannabis.

In the six months that led up to the killing, the defendant battled mood swings and "terrified" his mother one day when she woke up and found Freeman staring at her and stood at the foot of her bed.

On July 11, Shepherd threw a birthday party and barbecue in a local park, and had told around 60 guests to abide by an all-white dress code.

At approximately 10pm, numerous friends were made to look on as Freeman, dressed in black with his hood up, embarked on a "terrifying, sustained and unprovoked attack with a large knife or knives".

The weapons used have been described by eyewitnesses as ranging from a machete to a Samurai sword to a zombie knife.

The court heard Shepherd appearing to chide his killer, who in response hit him with a machete various times.

Shepherd was heard as saying: "I love you. What are you doing?" He also allegedly held his hands up while pleading with his brother and added: "I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t do this."

In total, Shepherd suffered 13 wounds to his back, shoulder, thigh, face and stomach, and the two fatal injuries administered by Freeman were around 19cm deep.

Since being in custody, Freeman has been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia by psychiatrists.

Dr Emmanuel Okoro, giving evidence, 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."

Describing the "very tragic case", Judge Marks told Freeman: "Such was the degree of violence used by you on your brother, one can only conclude your intention was to kill him.

The judge also said: "At the party, for reasons which are unclear, you had armed yourself with two-bladed articles, one of which was either a machete or a large zombie knife.

"The severity of the injuries were such they were unsurvivable and he was pronounced dead at the scene."

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