Rachel Fee, 32, argues that the judge in her 2016 trial misdirected the jury about the lesser charge of culpable homicide before sending them out to consider their verdict.
Senior judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, who heard arguments from Fee’s legal team and the Crown yesterday, said they would deliver their decision in due course.
Two-year-old Liam Fee died at his home near Glenrothes, Fife, on 22 March, 2014 following a campaign of abuse spanning more than two years.
Fee, also known as Trelfa, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 30, were both convicted of grossly abusing their position of trust to inflict suffering on the child after subjecting him to a ‘’cruel and pitiless regime’’ of abuse and neglect.
He had suffered fatal heart injuries similar to those found on road crash victims and spent the last few days of his short life in agony from an untreated broken leg and fractured arm.
The pair – originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear – were also convicted of being behind a catalogue of cruelty against two boys in their care, one of whom they tried to blame for Liam’s death.
Judge Lord Burns last year handed both women life sentences and ordered Rachel Fee to serve a minimum of 23 and a half years behind bars, while “domineering” Nyomi Fee was told to spend at least 24 years in prison.
Rachel Fee appeared alone in the dock on Friday as her defence counsel set out her full appeal case, centred on what they say was a misdirection by the trial judge during his legal summing-up at the High Court in Livingston in May. Defence QC Brian McConnachie told the court that the judge had directed the jury that they could convict both women of murder, acquit both accused, or convict Nyomi Fee of murder and acquit Rachel Fee.
“But what he did not present to the jury was the possibility that they could convict Nyomi Fee of murder and convict the appellant [Rachel Fee] of culpable homicide,” Mr McConnachie said.
The lawyer submitted that there was a case, on the evidence, for the jury to identify co-accused Nyomi Fee as having been the main “actor” in committing the murder.
The judges will deliver their decision at a later date.