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Kemarni Watson Darby: Man who murdered his partner’s three-year-old son jailed for at least 24 years

A man who was found guilty of murdering his partner’s three-year-old son has been sentenced to life and must serve at least 24 years in prison.

Kemarni Watson Darby died from abdominal injuries on 5 June 2018, after his rib cage was “crushed” at his home he shared with his mother and her partner in West Bromwich.

The youngster was taken to hospital, but pronounced dead that evening.

Convicted drug dealer Nathaniel Pope, 32, was found guilty of murdering the three-year-old.

He was found guilty of three other child cruelty charges while Alicia Watson, who was cleared of murdering her son, was also found guilty of three other child cruelty charges.

Kemarni had suffered multiple fractures, “some of which would have required force akin to a road traffic accident” or stamping on his body with a “shod foot”, Birmingham Crown Court heard in April.

Recent and non-recent injuries were found, including multiple fractures to both the left and right side of his rib cage, caused by at least four separate events.

The boy had also suffered extensive internal bruising and lacerations to his liver and colon and died of abdominal trauma, which the court heard “was most likely caused by a blow”.

Kemarni sustained additional bruises on his head, mouth, neck, arms, chest, abdomen, back and legs from “repeated and, in all probability, sustained assaults”.

His father, Darren Darby, told the trial he was aware that his son was being slapped, punched and kicked by his “strict” mother.

He also said he had warned Watson, 30, about Pope and asked her to be cautious of him.

Just over two weeks before Kemarni’s death, his father had noticed a lump on the right side of his forehead which was sticking out and a bruise on his lip.

Watson, of Handsworth, Birmingham, told him that Kemarni had walked into something or been clumsy.

Other family members raised concerns about bruises but were given similar explanations.

Kemarni’s maternal grandmother, Paulette Ellis, previously told Sky News she was unaware of most of Kemarni’s injuries and saw “no bruises at all except the ones that he had on his forehead”.

Asked if she questioned them, she said: “We always ask because you know what children are like but Kemarni was a little boy, he would just run and not look where he was going, he would bump into the door, bump into the table”.

She said no one from the family contacted social services.

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