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

A man who subjected his partner’s three-year-old son to “horrendous” beatings and left him to bleed to death has been sentenced to at least 24 years in prison.

Kemarni Watson Darby died on 5 June 2018 from abdominal injuries after his rib cage was “crushed” at his home in West Bromwich.

He was taken to hospital, but pronounced dead that evening.

Convicted drug dealer Nathaniel Pope, 32, was found guilty last month of murdering Kemarni.

He also found guilty of three other child cruelty charges.

Kemarni’s mother, Alicia Watson, 30, was cleared of murder but today sentenced to 11 years for causing or allowing his death.

His injuries were similar to those seen in a traffic accident or when someone falls from a height, said the judge at Birmingham Crown Court.

Recent and older injuries were found, including more than 20 rib fractures caused by at least four separate events.

The three-year-old also suffered extensive internal bruising and lacerations to his liver and colon, and died of abdominal trauma “most likely caused by a blow”.

‘Left to bleed to death’

Kemarni had other bruises on his head, mouth, neck, arms, chest, abdomen, back and legs – also likely caused by beatings.

“You, Nathaniel Pope, brutally assaulted Kemarni in the sitting room of his own home, and, knowing he was in extreme distress and pain, you left him to bleed to death,” said judge Mrs Justice Tipples during sentencing.

“I am sure that you did this when Alicia Watson was out.

“When you (Watson) returned, you found Kemarni’s lifeless body on the sofa and dialled 999.”

The judge said Watson knew her partner was beating her son but didn’t try to stop it, and also “regularly beat him hard” herself.

Pope was previously jailed for four months in 2011 for attacking a woman on a London bus. He also had convictions for burglary and possession of heroin with intent to supply.

Kemarni’s 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 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.

How family concerns were dismissed

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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