Jeremiah Regis-Ngaujah murder: Life sentence for stepfather
A man who subjected his partner's two-year-old son to a "regime of brutality" before murdering him has been jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years.
Chevaze McGregor, 27, left Jeremiah Regis-Ngaujah with more than 100 injuries, including a skull fracture, broken ribs and a bite wound.
Prosecutor Sally Howes told Birmingham Crown Court Jeremiah was left "broken and battered" by "callous" McGregor.
Jeremiah's mother Sindyann Regis, 25, previously admitted allowing his death.
She was jailed for three years and four months.
The court heard McGregor repeatedly struck his stepson with a rod and a belt at the boy's Wednesfield home in Wolverhampton.
A heavy blow ultimately caused Jeremiah's death, on 21 November last year.
Miss Howes told the court: "This is a case of a callous, sustained regime of brutality against a defenceless two-year-old in his own home.
"Jeremiah was left broken and battered with life-threatening injuries and as his life ebbed away moment by agonising moment, Chevaze McGregor stood by and watched, knowing full well what he had done."
Judge Mr Justice Morris told McGregor: "It is hard to imagine the pain inflicted upon such a defenceless child of two years of age.
"You were in a position of trust and you abused that trust in the most extreme manner."
McGregor told police that because of his strong Christian beliefs he believed it was necessary to use physical punishment when the boy misbehaved.
In police interviews McGregor, who claimed not to remember hitting Jeremiah around the head, produced a letter in which he stated: "Sindyann does not discipline him so it must be me.
"The job of the parent is to correct. God gave us pain so we know to do the right thing."
Miss Howes said McGregor formed a relationship with Regis after meeting her at a Pentecostal church when she was about seven months pregnant.
McGregor pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to murdering Jeremiah, who was born in Romford, Essex, in February 2014.
Regis, 26, of High Street, Wednesfield, initially told police she was unaware of any wrongdoing but later revealed she had seen McGregor holding Jeremiah off the floor after hearing "loud banging noises" coming from a bedroom.
During Friday's sentencing she could be heard sobbing in a room beside the dock after being allowed to leave court as Miss Howes detailed Jeremiah's various injuries, including bruising and a brain injury.
Jeremiah's father Sahr Ngaujah said he "had many hopes and dreams for Jeremiah", in a statement read out in court by Miss Howes.
"I will never know what Jeremiah may have become as a young man," he added.
"Losing your child is hard enough to deal with, but losing them to murder is just inconceivable."
'Manipulative and violent'
Jeremiah was confirmed dead at Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital, hours after his body was carried by McGregor to an ambulance.
The judge said the two-year-old died from multi-organ failure after his abdominal injuries caused septic shock.
Det Insp Warren Hines, from West Midlands Police's homicide team, said evidence showed Jeremiah had "defensive wounds to his hands and arms, which shows he tried to shield himself from the beatings".
He said McGregor was "a controlling, manipulative and violent individual".
Det Insp Hines said: "Evidence shows McGregor was prone to bouts of extreme loss of temper.
"Sindyann must have known what was happening, we have been told Jeremiah whimpered when McGregor was around and yet she allowed him sole charge and discipline of the toddler."