A mother and her partner have been jailed for life for murdering her toddler son after subjecting him to a “cruel and pitiless regime” of abuse and neglect.
Rachel Trelfa or Fee, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 29, abused their position of trust to inflict “appalling suffering” on two-year-old Liam Fee. Liam was murdered at his home near Glenrothes, Fife, on 22 March, 2014 following a campaign of abuse spanning more than two years.
He had suffered fatal heart injuries similar to those found on road crash victims and spent the last few days of his life in agony from an untreated broken leg and fractured arm.
The pair were also behind a catalogue of unspeakable cruelty against two boys in their care, one of whom they tried to blame for Liam’s death. At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Burns handed both women life sentences and indicated they would be in their fifties before they can be considered for release.
He ordered Trelfa to serve a minimum of 23-and-a-half years behind bars, while Fee – described by police as “domineering” – must spend at least 24 years in prison.
The judge told them: “In respect of Liam it was plain that he had been subjected to a prolonged course of violent behaviour which caused him appalling suffering both physically and mentally and ultimately caused his death at the age of two-and-a-half.”
The couple, who have shown no remorse, displayed little emotion as their sentence was heard. Liam’s father Joseph Johnson left court without making any comment.
The couple were convicted of Liam’s murder and seven other charges against them in May following a trial at the High Court in Livingston.
The case was considered one of the most distressing heard in a Scottish courtroom, with some evidence reducing jury members to tears.
Liam had suffered a severe blunt force trauma from a blow or blows to his chest and abdomen and had more than 30 external injuries.
The jury convicted the women of trying to defeat the ends of justice and of horrific abuses against two boys, which left them “profoundly damaged”.
These included denying the youngsters access to the toilet then forcing them to take cold showers when they wet the bed; imprisoning one in a home-made cage; and tying another naked to a chair in a dark room where snakes and rats were kept after telling him that a boa constrictor ate naughty boys.