A man has been sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 24 years for murdering his partner’s three-year-old son.
Nathaniel Pope, 32, subjected the young Kemarni Watson Darby to weeks of “horrendous” beating, delivering blows that were similar to those caused in a car crash.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that Kemarni had suffered more than 20 fractures “some of which would have required force akin to a road traffic accident”.
The three-year-old died from abdominal injuries on 5 June 2018 after his rib cage was “crushed”. The court heard that the final injury was “most likely caused by a blow”.
Kemarni’s father, Darren Darby, paid tribute to his young son yesterday, telling the sentencing judge that Kemarni was “always smiling and laughing”.
His mother, Alicia Watson, was also jailed for 11 years after being found guilty of three child cruelty charges. She was cleared by a jury of murdering her son de ella but was found guilty of causing or allowing his death de ella at her West Bromwich flat de ella.
Watson had taken her son to hospital on 5 June 2018, but he was pronounced dead later that evening.
During the trial, Watson maintained that she had not been aware of Kemarni’s injuries. When asked by prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC how many injuries she remembers, Watson said: “None. He had old scarring from accidents but nothing new as far as I knew.
“I didn’t cause them, I didn’t see them. I loved and cared for my child for three years.”
Recent and non-recent injuries were found on Kemarni’s body, including multiple fractures to his rib cage. He also suffered internal bruising, the court heard.
The couple were described in court as “partners in crime”.
“The pair blamed one another from the witness box, despite continuing to have lived together for several months after the boy’s death,” the court heard.
Kermani’s father, Darren Darby, said that he had been aware that his son was being slapped, punched and kicked by his mother, who he described as “strict”.
“Everybody did know that she was beating Kemarni,” he told the trial. “We all let him down.” In a statement read to the sentencing hearing, Mr Darby said: “My son Kemarni was an active, fun, boisterous, cheeky young boy.
“He was always smiling and laughing. His life has been cruelly cut short. He had the potential to be so much. I will not get to be involved in the key moments of his life of him. ”
Mr Darby recounted hearing the news that Kemarni was dead, saying: “I cannot put into words how I felt”.
“As time went on I would be told about the injuries Kemarni had,” he continued. “It didn’t come all at once, it was piece by piece, revelation by revelation. Both Alicia and Nathaniel told lies so you can’t be sure what’s truth and what’s fiction. All I feel is anger towards them – I feel deceived by them.”
Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said that convicted drug dealer Nathaniel Pop has “abused his position of trust”. He said: “Kemarni was particularly vulnerable. Pope was the partner of Kemarni’s mother, Kemarni was in his care of her. He was responsible for him. I did have significant caring responsibilities.”
He added that “drugs were a priority in that home on any view and on occasions, were prioritized over the child.”
Kemarni’s grandmother, Paulette Ellis, described the three-year-old as a “bubbly, friendly little one.”
“We all miss him and it’s taken a toll on the rest of the family,” she told SkyNews.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.