Couple jailed over killing of three-year-old boy whose ribs were crushed after weeks of abuse

24 May 2022, 12:25 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 13:36

Alicia Watson and Nathaniel Pope have been jailed over the young boy's death
Alicia Watson and Nathaniel Pope have been jailed over the young boy's death. Picture: West Midlands Police

By Will Taylor

A mother and her partner have been jailed over the death of a three-year-old boy.

Nathaniel Pope was given life with a minimum of 24 years for murdering Kemarni Watson Darby, whose ribs were crushed.

Alicia Watson was jailed for 11 years at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday for child cruelty and causing or allowing her boy's death in a flat in West Bromwich in June 2018.

Mrs Justice Tipples, jailing Pope, said she was sure he was under the influence of cannabis when he killed the youngster.

She said: "The final assault involved multiple blows to his chest, limbs and abdomen from fists, kicking or with an object.

"This was a severe and sustained assault which will have caused extreme distress and pain and that would have been obvious to you.

Read more: Sarah Everard killer Wayne Couzens pleads not guilty to indecent exposure charges

"Abusing Kemarni was and became an accepted course of conduct in the flat.

"Kemarni was not your son and he did not mean anything to you. You saw him as a nuisance who got in the way of your relationship."

Kemarni suffered 20 rib fractures in weeks of "horrendous" beatings from Pope. In total, he had 34 separate areas of external injuries.

The force used by the 32-year-old was similar to the kind experienced in car crashes.

Pope, a convicted drug-dealer from Wolverhampton, was found guilty in April after a five-month trial. He had previously been jailed for four months in 2011 for an attack on a young mother on a London bus.

He had tried to plead ignorance about the attack. It emerged that she had bought cannabis and spent money on driving lessons as Kemarni lost his nursery place due to lack of funds.

Alicia Watson, of Handsworth, Kemarni's mother, was cleared of murder but found guilty of causing or allowing his death.

The 31-year-old was also convicted of child cruelty and was also given an 11-year prison term.

"This is a particularly distressing and tragic case," the judge said.

"Kemarni died on the afternoon of the 5th of June 2018. 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.

"I am sure that you did this when Alicia Watson was out. When you (Watson) returned, you found Kemani's lifeless body on the sofa and dialled 999."

The judge said the force used against the three-year-old were "compatible with the type of injuries seen in a road traffic collision or when an individual falls from a height".