A woman accused of murdering a toddler with her partner made a “catastrophic mistake” when she failed to get the boy medical help for an injury, but there is “no evidence” she assaulted him, a jury has heard.
Two-year-old Liam Fee died at a house near Glenrothes, Fife, on 22 March, 2014.
Nyomi Fee, 29, and the boy’s mother Rachel Fee or Trelfa, 31, deny repeatedly inflicting “blunt force trauma” to his head and body and have blamed his death on a young boy who cannot be identified.
At the High Court in Livingston, Fee’s lawyer said failure to get Liam’s suspected broken leg seen to by doctors and his killing were two separate matters.
Mark Stewart QC told jurors: “It was a catastrophic mistake and a catastrophic failure of care. It’s unforgivable, it’s cruel. She accepts that.
“It merits and brings down upon her the total condemnation of society, but it carries with it the risk that all objectivity be dismissed.”
Mr Stewart said the public could “write off” the pair, but as members of the jury they have taken an oath to apply an open mind to all the matters before them.
He said: “There’s no evidence offered to you that Nyomi Fee assaulted Liam in any way between 15 March and 22 March, 2014.
“The Crown has not offered you one piece of evidence.
“They ask you to make assumptions, to draw inferences, but they offer you no evidence.”
He stated: “The unpalatable and difficult truth is that [another boy] was responsible for the injuries that befell Liam.
“I don’t say that because it’s convenient, I say that because that’s what the evidence says.”
The couple gave evidence at the trial last week, telling of their regret at not getting Liam medical help when they suspected he suffered a broken leg in the days before his death.
Trelfa, who went to look after her horse for three hours on the day her son died, said she feared social workers would become involved and remove her child from her care.
She said another boy, who she claimed had shown sexualised behaviour towards Liam in the past, told her he had “strangled or suffocated” the toddler.
During a speech to the jury lasting more than four hours, Mr Stewart said the boy’s reported behaviour and comments he made to police gave a “clear explanation, with motive” for assaulting Liam.
He described the case as “truly terrible” and the evidence put before the court as “harrowing”. The lawyer concluded: “He [the boy] was the one, and only him, who was responsible for harming Liam that day.
“In seeking to ask you to convict Nyomi Fee of this crime, the Crown is required to put before you her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“I say to you that reasonable doubt is apparent in the strong case that exists that shows [the boy] was the responsible party for what happened.”
Mr Stewart said the jury is entitled to convict Fee of a charge of failing to seek medical care for Liam.
The trial continues.