Mum and partner convicted over death of Kemarni Watson Darby

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A mother and her ex-partner have been convicted over the death of a three-year-old boy after he was subjected to "car-crash-like injuries".

Kemarni Watson Darby was found "lifeless" at his home on Beacon View Road in West Bromwich, West Midlands, on June 5, 2018.

His mother Alicia Watson, 30, has been found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her son and her partner Nathaniel Pope, 31, has been convicted of the boy's murder today (April 12).

Three-year-old Kemarni died after suffering abdominal injuries at the two-bedroom flat where the youngster lived with the couple.

Prosecutors alleged he died after a "vicious, forceful assault" which split his abdomen and caused a "massive" internal bleed.

Watson, of Raglan Road in Handsworth, and Pope, of Evans Street in Wolverhampton, were accused of subjecting the toddler to repeated "extremely painful" assaults in the months before his death.

Car-crash-like injuries

The three-year-old had what were described in court as "horrendous" car-crash-like injuries - including multiple fractures to his rib cage, and bruising all over his body. 

Paramedics arrived at Stanton House in June 2018 - Kemarni's mother had called for help. 

Kemarni was also subjected to abdominal trauma which caused an internal bleed that proved fatal. 

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said: "Kemarni had been the subject of repeated and, in all probability, sustained assaults.

"Obviously, they would have been extremely painful and as a three-year-old he would have been in no position, given his size, to offer any form of defence."

"This is, therefore, not a case in which an accident can play any part. Pope and Watson were responsible for his care and they lived together in a small flat."

Pope and Watson both denied murder and multiple cruelty charges. They both then turned on each other in court.

Watson said of Pope - he is a "cold-hearted liar" who must have caused the injures without her knowing. 

Kemarni was left with a "plethora of severe injuries" including multiple fractures to his rib cage, as well as wounds to his liver and colon.

Bruising was uncovered on his lungs, head, mouth, neck, arms, chest, abdomen, back and legs, prosecutors previously said.

The "catalogue" of injuries also included scars to the eyes, cheeks, knees and limbs.

The pair were sentenced on Tuesday (12 April) Credit: West Midlands Police

Watson claimed case against her was 'disgustingly wrong'

Watson is said to have maintained a 'defiant and angry' stance during much of her 6 days giving evidence.

During the trial, the 30-year-old accused barristers of lying and dismissed the case against her as 'disgustingly wrong'.

On the fifth day of giving evidence, Watson suffered a nosebleed and told the jury she was mentally and physically exhausted, adding that she was "done" with giving evidence.

She was allowed the complete her testimony via videolink from HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire and the end of her cross-examination was limited to one hour.

This was deemed reasonable by the court given the information provided about Watson's health.

During the limited questioning time, prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC asked Watson to account for 34 non-medical related external injury sites found on Kemarni's body, including some containing multiple bruises.

Asked how many of the injuries she had been aware of, Watson replied: "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."

The mother maintained that her son Kemarni must have been attacked by Pope when she was away from the flat and also claimed she had no idea how he suffered broken ribs. During questioning by Pope's QC Jonas Hankin, Watson said she was "pissed off" with some of the questions being asked.

During the trial Watson also said she continued to live with her ex-lover for a significant amount of time following Kemarni's death before she was charged, as she did not believe the claims made about how her son died.

Mr Badenoch put it to Watson that she had not been living with a "secretive child abuser" but acted with Pope to abuse Kemarni "for days, months and hours on end".

Watson said the Crown's case was "disgustingly wrong", but following the 65-day trial jurors unanimously convicted her of child cruelty and causing or allowing her little boy's death.

Some details of Pope's criminal past concealed from jury

During the trial, some details of Pope's criminal past were given to the jury but others were concealed.

Details of an attack on a young mother on a London bus in 2011 were kept from the jury after he claimed they were “markedly different” to the facts surrounding the killing of Kemarni Watson Darby.

The 2011 attack saw the 32-year-old repeatedly smash the victim’s head into a hand-rail, drag her off the bus by her hair and kick her as she lay on the pavement.

It happened in Hendon after the victim’s pram accidentally nudged his then partner’s buggy and Pope was subsequently jailed for four months.

The jurors were aware that Pope was jailed and convicted of common assault, but they weren't given further details of the attack.

In May 2011 Hendon Magistrates Court was told how Pope felt the pram space was 'infringed' by the victim and he attacked her after his partner spat at her.

During the trial prosecutors claimed that these actions demonstrated how Pope had previously participated in a joint assault with a female partner in front of children.

Jurors were on the other hand informed that Pope was found with crack cocaine on his person when he was arrested on the point of him being charged with murder.

The former warehouse worker also had previous convictions for burglary and possession of heroin with intent to supply.

Pope was also given a prison term of 12 months for burglary in September 2011 and 20 months for possessing heroin with intent to supply in July 2013.

In 2014, the court heard how Pope moved to the West Midlands and worked as a chef in a restaurant in the Smethwick area.

Although Pope tried to blame Kemarni’s mother, Alicia Watson, for inflicting repeated beatings on the three-year-old, Crown QC Tony Badenoch told the trial: “The severity of Kemarni’s injuries were such that each defendant must have been aware that he had suffered really serious harm and would suffer in the same way in the event of further attacks.”

'Another tragic case of child abuse'

Pope and Watson were also separately convicted of two further counts of child cruelty in relation to other children. Both will be sentenced at a later date.

“Kemarni Watson Darby’s short life saw him suffer violence and cruelty at the hands of people who should have been protecting and nurturing him," an NSPCC spokesperson told ITV News Central.

"These verdicts mark the conclusion of another tragic case of child abuse which will have shocked both his community and wider society.

“At terrible, upsetting moments like this it is important to remember that child abuse can be prevented, and we all have a role to play in keeping children safe. It requires leadership and a commitment to safeguarding at a national and local level."

The added: "We also urge anyone who has concerns for the wellbeing of a child to immediately contact the relevant authorities or the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.”

'Difficult evidence'

“A jury today found his mother, Alicia Watson guilty of allowing Kemarni Watson Darby’s death, and her partner, Nathaniel Pope, guilty of murder", said Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, head of homicide at West Midlands Police.

“The jury heard over the course of the trial some really difficult evidence, showing Kemarni, aged only three, died of injuries consistent with being involved in a car crash."

“Over the weeks beforehand, he sustained other injuries at the hands of his stepdad and mother.

“I can only begin to imagine what the final few weeks of his life will have been like. My thoughts are with Kemarni’s family and friends at this time.”