Relatives of Kemarni Watson Darby, 3, have not been able to bring him to rest for over three years after he was murdered by his mother’s partner
The father of a three-year-old boy who was murdered by his mother’s partner said he will remember his son as a child who was “always smiling and laughing”.
Nathaniel Pope, 32, was unanimously found guilty by a Birmingham Crown Court jury of murdering Kermani Watson Darby after he inflicted more than 20 broken ribs during weeks of beatings, some with violence resembling a car crash.
Kemarni’s mother Alicia Watson, 30, was acquitted of her son’s murder but found guilty of causing or allowing the child’s death.
The tot suffered from a series of horrific injuries before his death.
During the couple’s sentencing hearing, Darren Darby, Kermarni’s father, said it took over three years to put his son to rest after his life was “cruelly cut short”.
The court was told that the force applied by Pope to Kemarni was similar to that typically inflicted in a car accident.
And it was shown in detail that Kermani’s fragile body, which showed 34 different areas of external injuries, had acted as a “silent witness” to the crime.
Pope and Watson were also found guilty of multiple counts of child cruelty. They will know their fate on Tuesday when the sentencing process resumes.
The four-month trial was told that Watson and Pope, who accused each other from the witness stand, were “partners in crime” and lived together for several months after Kermani’s death.
The jury found that the three-year-old had died of abdominal injuries on the afternoon of June 5, 2018 after his chest was “crushed” by Pope at the couple’s two-bedroom West Bromwich flat.
Four broken ribs were also among the fatal injuries to Kermani’s body, which pathologists believe were inflicted at his home on Beaconview Road up to four weeks before his death.
Pope, who was sentenced to four months in prison in 2011 for brutally attacking a young mother on a London bus, claimed in court he neither saw nor heard the deadly attack on Kemarni.
The former warehouse worker has previous convictions for burglary and heroin possession with intent to deliver, and was found with a “rock” of crack cocaine lodged in his buttocks when he was arrested for murder in March 2021.
Watson, who is said to have a “zero to 100” temper, became furious when he testified, accusing Pope of not living with him until after her son’s death because she doubted the medical evidence.
During the trial it was revealed that she had bought cannabis and spent money on driving lessons as Kemarni lost his kindergarten place due to lack of funds.
“It’s a real life sentence for me and my family”
In a statement read by a barrister at the same court on Monday, Mr Darby said: “My son Kemarni was an active, fun, boisterous, cheeky boy. He always smiled and laughed.
“His life was cruelly cut short. He had the potential to be so much.
“I will not be involved in the key moments of his life.
“Kemarni was loved by so many people, both friends and family. Everyone is affected by his death.”
Mr Darby, who is currently studying at the university and gave his testimony two weeks after the end of the trial, continued: “We had to wait over three years before we could get Kemarni to rest on the criminal investigation.
“When I first heard the news that Kemarni had passed away, I cannot put into words how I felt.
“Over time, I found out about the injuries Kemarni had. It didn’t come all at once, it came bit by bit, revelation by revelation.
“Both Alicia and Nathaniel have told lies, so you can’t be sure what is truth and what is fiction. All I feel is anger at them – I feel betrayed by them.
“It’s about coping now – trying to get through each day. When you are in this situation, it doesn’t seem real.
“It’s a real life sentence for me and my family. There is no going back from that – Kemarni is not coming back.”
Expert witnesses said Kemarni was already suffering serious injuries when, hours before he was beaten to death, he was taken to a walk-in health center by Ms Watson, where she told a nurse her son was ill, had a high temperature and was not eating.
Notes from the visit suggested the boy, who was being given medication for a suspected stomach upset, had been vomiting for five days and was “not himself”.
Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said: “The post-mortem revealed that Kemarni had suffered horrific injuries both on that day and on previous occasions.
“An autopsy revealed the injuries both externally and internally.
“Among those injuries were several fractures to his skeleton, some of which would have required violence resembling a traffic accident or a pounding.
“Both recent and non-recent injuries were found. There were multiple fractures on both the left and right sides of his rib cage that could be historically dated to the hours and weeks before his death.
“At least four different events caused the ruptures. These included corner breaks, break lines, partial breaks and a complete transverse break.”
Internal bruising and lacerations were also described as extensive, including injuries to Kemarni’s liver and colon.
During the trial, it was revealed that an electrical wire had been used to ‘lock’ a bedroom door in the apartment.
Jurors were also shown a photo of Kemarni with an injury to his right eye, as well as one showing him eating near a clump of his own hair, which Watson claimed he clipped.
After the jury heard evidence from both defendants, family members, a kindergarten teacher and a social worker, Mr Badenoch used his closing speech to describe the murder as the brutal killing of a completely defenseless victim.
He told the court: “According to prosecutors, Kemarni suffered a series of horrific injuries – caused by extreme violence related to a car accident – weeks before his death.
“He was also marked and scarred in dozens of different areas, including grip injuries where he had been abused in his young life while learning to walk and speak.
“That was Kemarni’s life in his final weeks – as his mum spent the £25 needed for his ongoing nursery schooling on driving lessons and drugs.”
Mom claims she ‘lost everything’
Jonas Hankin QC, representing Pope of Wolverhampton, argued that the former warehouse worker’s “truly appalling” actions, with many aggravating characteristics, should not be seen in the same category as the “deliberate, systematic and ongoing abuse” committed at another Child has been observed murder cases in recent years.
He said: “The deadly violence, painful and brutal as it must have been, was obviously not life-threatening.”
Charles Sherrard for Watson, of Handsworth, Birmingham, said: “No matter what the court does, she has lost everything.
“Of course, the jury’s verdicts have shown that she is to blame for this loss.
“She will come (out of jail) to a family understandably divided between some who continue to be supportive and those who understandably will always remain extremely critical.
“The impact on their mental health is significant. She may be in a very dark place and may never come out.”
https://www.nationalworld.com/news/crime/kemarni-watson-darby-nathaniel-pope-guilty-murder-son-cruelty-3653019 Kemarni Watson Darby: Boy, 3, murdered by mother’s partner