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Former rugby player Nathan Brew talks publicly for first time about the murder of his brother

27 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Nathan Brew. Image: S4C

Former rugby player Nathan Brew has spoken publicly for the first time about the murder of his brother in an unprovoked attack outside a nightclub in Neath in 2022.

Matthew Thomas was hit only once by Daniel Pickering during the attack – a case of a one punch death.

Over the last three years, one in ten murders and manslaughters recorded in Wales were caused by a single punch.


In an interview with S4C Nathan said that the family had become much closer following the tragedy.

In the programme Nathan Brew: Un Eiliad Un Ergyd (One Second One Punch), Nathan and his sisters Rachel Brew and Kath Thomas share the story of the death of their brother, Matthew, who was 47 years old, and the impact the tragedy has had on their family.

Nathan said: “We’re much closer as a family after what happened to Matthew, because a tragedy like this brings you together.”

“We got a call at 1 o’clock in the morning to say that all his vitals had changed, and we should go to the hospital. We went straight there – that was difficult. We all went as a family. The Consultant said ‘I’m really sorry Matthew is going to die – he will die before the morning, and this is your chance to go in and say your goodbyes.”

“I think I failed to accept the fact looking back. I thought ‘what’s this going to achieve?’ but I snapped out of it. I went in to see Matthew – just the two of us, and I apologised to him that we weren’t as close as we were when I was growing up.”

“I remember looking at his face. There was a little cut on it but otherwise he looked fine. I felt slightly confused, thinking ‘he looks ok, so why do they say he’s not likely to get through it?’.”


34-year-old Daniel Pickering had been drinking alcohol all day and had taken over £100 worth of cocaine before he attacked Matthew Thomas.

Pickering was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years behind bars, with police describing the attack as unprovoked and an example of how excessive drinking and drug taking can trigger violent behaviour.

Recalling that day in court, Nathan said: “He had a totally merciless look on his face. No remorse at all.

“To hear Daniel Pickering’s story – that he had done something similar before (although not to the same extent) made us all quite angry, not just at Daniel Pickering but at the system, because he should never have been out.”

The programme will follow South Wales Police detectives as they attempt to tackle the problem of one punch deaths.

We also hear the story of three other heart-breaking cases that made the headlines in Wales over the course of a year.

“Worlds fall apart”

DS Neil Jones, South Wales Police said: “Usually, it’s men in their twenties and thirties that go out and drink too much and take drugs that offend. When the two things mix, people react differently.

“Unfortunately, a number of people die every year as a result of a one punch attack. During Covid, there were fewer instances; the pubs weren’t open; people didn’t go out as much, but the attacks have increased once again.

“In that one moment, people’s worlds fall apart. It creates a lot of work for the police, but it’s the effect on the victim’s family which is heart-breaking. It’s sad to see a family’s reaction to something so pointless.”

The programme was shown on S4C on Sunday 24 March and is available to watch now on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer.

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
3 months ago

I remember this well. Truly shocking. Nathan Brew is & was a great Welsh rugby international. I hold him in high regard as a player. To endure what he and his family has since the tragic murder of his brother wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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