A “monster” father who killed a young mother next to their sleeping baby was accused today of crying crocodile tears.
Nigel Diakite launched a brutal attack on N’Taya Elliott-Cleverley the day she moved because of his domestic abuse. He strangled her in bed with a skipping rope, while their four-month-old daughter lay in a crib next to them.
Diakite, 19, claimed he could not remember committing the murder at their Wavertree home, despite confessing to it afterwards. The teen blamed mental health issues and even accused his 20-year-old victim of assault.
READ MORE: Live updates as Nigel Diakite convicted of killing the mother of his baby N’Taya Elliott-Cleverley
A jury unanimously found him guilty of murder and he was today incarcerated for life with a minimum of 19 years. Diakite held a tissue to his eyes in the harbor of Liverpool Crown Court, as he had done during the trial.
But as she fought back tears herself, the victim’s mother, Deborah Cleverley, accused the killer of pretending. She referred to a voicemail that Diakite sent to a friend asking for money – in which his injured victim was heard badly, shortly before strangling her.
Ms Cleverley said: “To sit in court and listen to the fact that my defenseless little girl has suffered over 50 separate injuries while just trying to go to sleep for the night with the excitement of being on her new one in a few hours. to begin life is just deadly the fact that he hit my little N’Taya once, let alone repeatedly, but to make a voice sound while my little girl struggled to breathe That sound, of my little girl, will never leave me.
“He did nothing to help her, he should have called for help, but instead he used N’Taya’s phone to save his own skin, made plans to escape his actions and thought of no one but herself. and use a skipping rope to make sure she took her last breath while her precious baby lay next to him and slept peacefully. It’s just pure evil.”
Diakite destroyed his partner’s cell phone and robbed her family of all photos and memories on the device, after the attack in the early hours of Friday, January 29, 2021. The grieving grandmother said: “It was so hard to listen to him and all the lies he told about N’Taya.
“He has shown no reaction at all when N’Taya’s name or the name of our dear precious granddaughter has been mentioned, it was all about him. I sat and watched him wipe away his fake tears, feeling sorry for himself and the consequences who has had this for his life.
“I found him rude and unpleasant during the trial. He showed no remorse for his despicable actions.”
Evidence showed Miss Elliott-Cleverley was strangled with a ligature and detectives found a bloodstained skipping rope “hidden under a garbage bag” on their property on Prince Alfred Road. The victim was discovered by Diakite’s counselor, Celia Cole, who he called after the murder and left a message that read “sorry about everything”.
When Mrs. Cole called back, he claimed that Miss Elliott-Cleverley had gone to her mother’s house and left him with the baby, before claiming she had “beaten” him. Mrs. Cole and concerned neighbors found Miss Elliott-Cleverley’s body in a pool of blood.
Diakite, also known as Mohammed Diakite, traveled in a taxi to Liverpool One Bus Station, calling his friend Ismael Donzo on the way. Mr Donzo – praised today by a top judge – recorded the conversation, in which Diakite confessed and said he had beaten his partner, then decided to “take it off”.
Diakite was previously accused by Miss Elliott-Cleverley of sexually assaulting her on October 6, 2020, just two weeks after their baby was born. On police bodycam footage, she told officers he had put his fingers in her mouth and bruised her left arm by grabbing him.
Miss Elliott-Cleverley released a statement a day later saying her allegations were true, but she no longer wanted to support a prosecution because it was “too much for me to handle”. The mother said she only wanted to focus on her baby, had made a down payment on a new home and planned to live there alone. Hours before her murder, she texted her mother about moving arrangements.
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Ian Unsworth, QC, Prosecutor, read today a heartbreaking statement from Joseph Elliott, the victim’s father. He said, “Knowing I’ll never see N’Taya again, never be able to see her smile or hear her laugh, it’s destroying me inside.”
Elliott said his daughter “had her whole life ahead of her” and was a “devoted mummy”. He said: “She loved her daycare job with kids and was overjoyed when she found out she was going to be a mommy herself. She was so excited and buying things for the baby before she was born.”
The court heard she was about to start driving lessons and was “so excited” about moving into her new home – sharing videos of the rooms with her father – but she and her baby “could never move to their happy place” . Elliott said, “My world has been destroyed by what that monster did to my daughter and my life will never be the same.”
The father said he was so proud of his daughter, who “would do anything for everyone and always see the good in people” and how she “always laughed and joked” and had “so much to live for”. He said: “We all live in a nightmare without our N’Taya, the pain will never stop, he has destroyed our lives. He has taken our angel from us and I miss her so much.”
Richard Pratt, QC, defended, asking the judge to consider his client’s age and “psychiatric history.” The asylum seeker, from Côte d’Ivoire, was taking medication for depression and when he was seen by doctors immediately after the murder, he was thought to have symptoms consistent with PTSD. However, at the time of the murder, he was found not to be psychotic.
A month after the murder, he was diagnosed with ‘acute psychotic’ and was transferred to Spinney Hospital for mental health in April 2021. In January 2022, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Supreme Court Justice Justice Stephen Morris said he was sure Diakite intended to kill his victim. He told him: “N’Taya must have been not only terrified by her own ordeal, but also tormented by the fact that all this happened to her daughter who was sleeping in the crib next to her.”
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Justice Morris said the use of the skipping rope was a serious aggravating factor, as was the “mental and physical suffering” as evidenced by her “heavy breathing” on the recording, and the presence of her daughter. He said it was a “ruthless” attack at Mrs Elliott-Cleverley’s home, her young baby by the bed and “a background of previous domestic violence”.
Families Fighting for Justice is a peer support group for families affected by murder.
It runs The Hub, on Anson Street, off Prescot Street near the Royal Liverpool Hospital, a walk-in center offering information and support under one roof.
The charity understands the issues affecting the family of a victim of homicide or negligence down the road and can provide advice and guidance, referrals to a network of health care providers, counseling services, support through the legal process and more.
For more information about The Hub, visit: www.homicidesupporthub.org