A mum and her partner have today (24 May) been jailed for the death of three-year-old Kemarni Watson Darby, who was murdered at a flat in West Bromwich in 2018. Nathaniel Pope, 32, was found guilty of Kemarni’s murder last month and sentenced to life in prison, he will have to serve a minimum of 24 years before being eligible for parole.
Kemarni’s mother Alicia Watson was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of her son and was jailed for 11 years at Birmingham Crown Court. Watson called paramedics to the Beacon View Road flat she shared with Nathaniel Pope on 5 June 2018. She told them that Kemarni had stopped breathing. Shortly after the call was made, paramedics found him lifeless on a bedroom floor with Watson trying to perform CPR on her son.
Kemarni had suffered multiple fractures, internal injuries and bruising. He sadly died as a result of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma. His injuries were so severe that the force used to inflict them was compared to that of a car crash and jurors at Birmingham Crown Court heard that Kemarni had most likely been stamped on. The court heard medical evidence that Kemarni had also sustained older injuries. Some of his fractures had already started to heal – evidence that Kemarni was hurt by Watson and Pope on at least four separate occasions in the weeks before he died.
Jurors also heard how Pope often locked Kemarni in a room and used snapped electrical cables to keep the door shut. Watson herself lied to several people about some of her son’s injuries; telling his nursery and other family members that he’d been hurt in a play fight with his siblings when in reality he was being abused. On 5 June she took Kemarni to a medical centre where he was examined and suspected to have been suffering a stomach bug. At no point did she disclose that he had been subject to assaults or trauma.
Footage played at court shows Watson and Kemarni walking to and from the medical centre and visiting a McDonald’s just hours before he died. Expert pathologists gave evidence that it was extremely likely that Kemarni suffered the fatal injuries when he returned home. They believed there was no way he could have stood up and walked, let alone make it to the medical centre with the injuries he later died of.
Pope and Watson were both inside the flat with Kemarni on the afternoon that he was killed. They were charged with murder and multiple counts of child cruelty but chose to plead not guilty to all of the offences. Following a long-standing trial at Birmingham Crown Court lasting several months the pair were convicted on 12 April. Alicia Watson, 30, of Raglan Road in Handsworth, Birmingham, was found guilty of causing or allowing a death and child cruelty. Nathaniel Pope, 31, of Evans Street, Wolverhampton, was found guilty of murder and child cruelty.
Detective Inspector James Mahon, who led the investigation, said: “Kemarni was so young and would not have been able to explain what was happening, or the pain that he was feeling to those that cared for him. “It’s absolutely awful that the two people who were supposed to look after him the most were those that caused injury, and in the end his death. “I hope that the conviction of both Pope and Watson at least gives Kemarni’s loved ones some form of closure.”