It has been revealed that British MMA fighter The Nightmare was hacked to death by his half-brother as he celebrated his 30th birthday.
Dwight Freeman, 19, from Vauxhall killed Jahreau “The Nightmare” Shepherd on July 11 2020 as he partied with friends in Kennington, south London. He then fled to Newquay in Cornwall, where he was spotted five days later. A court heard that Jahreau Shepherd was celebrating with his family at a BBQ when Dwight Freeman, 19, began hacking at him with a machete.
Last month, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility and another count of wounding with intent. On Monday, Judge Richard Marks QC sentenced Freeman to a hospital order without limit of time. Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC outlined the facts of the case to the courtroom, where friends and family of the pair sat. The victim was an “accomplished” MMA fighter who lived with his mother and half-brother, who was known as DJ, Carberry told the court.
Mr. Shepherd behaved like a “father figure” to his younger brother, and tried to get him to “fix up and be better” and “stop smoking skunk cannabis” – but the defendant at times had been “physically imposing” and there were issued between the siblings, the court heard.
In the six months before the murder, Freeman had been suffering from mood swings and had left his mother “terrified” when she woke up to find him staring at her at the foot of the bed. An appointment was made for him to see his GP, but he had failed to attend.
On the evening of the killing, Mr. Shepherd held a birthday party and barbecue in a park, where around 60 guests were invited. He had told them that the dress code was to wear white – but Freeman arrived at around 10pm wearing black and with his hood up.
Numerous friends looked on as he carried out a “terrifying, sustained and unprovoked attack with a large knife or knives”, Ms. Carberry said. Eyewitnesses described the weapons as a machete, a samurai sword, and a large zombie knife.
An eyewitness heard Mr. Shepherd “tell off” the defendant, who proceeded to hit him several times with a blade. 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 heard. Mr. Shepherd suffered 13 wounds in total, including to his back, shoulder, thigh, face, and stomach, with the two fatal injuries being around 19cm deep. Freeman only stopped the frenzied attack when a bottle was thrown at him, causing him to drop one of the weapons.
When 26-year-old Joel Belgrave tried to intervene, he was also stabbed and suffered a punctured lung. Freeman fled the scene, discarding a knife under a car, and went on the run in the west country. Before he was tracked down in Cornwall, he dyed and shaved his hair in a bid to alter his appearance, and booked a room under a false name.
Psychiatrists diagnosed Freeman with paranoid schizophrenia while he was in custody, the court heard. Giving evidence, Dr. Emmanuel Okoro said the teenager’s severe mental illness had “played a significant part in the offences”.
Sentencing, Judge Marks told the defendant: “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.
“You attacked your brother with one or more of the weapons.
“You did so in a ferocious manner causing him no fewer than 13 stab wounds.” “Such was the degree of violence used by you on your brother, one can only conclude your intention was to kill him.
“The severity of the injuries were such they were unsurvivable and he was pronounced dead at the scene.” The judge noted that Freeman had been a “habitual” skunk cannabis user which may have contributed to his illness.
He said: “It’s obviously a very tragic case, more so because your mother in the six months before events had made a number of appointments for you to attend your GP but you had failed to attend, thinking there was nothing wrong with you.” Detective Sergeant Ben Dalloway, of Scotland Yard, said: “This is a truly tragic case in which a family have essentially lost two of their loved ones.
“Jahreau was celebrating his 30th birthday listening to music and enjoying a barbecue surrounded by his loved ones. His life was cut short in an extremely violent manner which shocked and appalled those present.
“Jahreau was well loved in the local area and also amongst the mixed martial arts community. He turned to the sport towards the end of his life and was a champion fighter.”