A mother accused of murdering her three-year-old son has claimed she initially believed he died of an illness.

Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court, Alicia Watson said she never harmed Kemarni Watson Darby and told jurors she took him to see a nurse just hours before his death.

The 30-year-old defendant said she “genuinely thought he was just sick” and was “confused at what had happened”.

The toddler died after suffering abdominal injuries, with prosecutors claiming he was fatally assaulted at the flat where he lived with Watson and her partner Nathaniel Pope.

The prosecution team also argues Kemarni was subjected to previous abuse.

Last month, Pope, 32, told the court he did not see or hear the assault that killed the young boy and was not in the room when he was assaulted in June 2018, at his home in West Bromwich, West Midlands.

Pope and Watson both deny murder and child cruelty charges.

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A visit to the nurse and a trip to McDonald’s

On Tuesday, Watson told the court she found Kemarni unresponsive after returning home at about 3.45pm on 5 June 2018.

She said Kemarni was seen by a nurse for around 15 minutes at about noon that day, saying: “I sat him on my lap and I answered all her questions and she checked his stomach.”

The nurse also checked his ears, throat, and chest, and said his temperature was normal, she added.

Watson said Kemarni was prescribed rehydration medicine, which she picked up at the chemist before taking him to McDonald’s.

She said there was nothing in the examination that “gave a hint” of the fractured ribs her son was found to have suffered.

Once they returned home, Kemarni fell asleep on a sofa and Watson left their flat, returning at around 3.45pm while on the phone to her sister.

‘He was lying on the settee… staring into space.’

Watson told the court: “I went straight to check on Kemarni. He was lying on the settee… staring into space.”

After being told to dial 999 by her sister, Watson said, she saw Pope enter the room and he was told by the operator to do rescue breaths.

Kemarni was taken to hospital via an ambulance and, shortly after 5pm, Watson was told nothing could be done to save her son.

The jury was told that by 9.19pm, she had been arrested by police.

“I was a mess,” she told the court. “I couldn’t stop crying and I was confused at what had happened.”

Insisting she had never done anything to harm her son, Watson added: “I genuinely thought he was just sick, nothing more.”

She said of Pope: “I had just seen him try to save my child. I didn’t think at all for a second that he had done anything that had caused Kemarni’s death.”

The trial continues.