Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Liam Fee murder trial: Accused says toddler 'self-harming'

Rachel and Nyomi Fee deny murdering Liam
Image caption Rachel and Nyomi Fee deny murdering Liam

One of the women accused of murdering two-year-old Liam Fee has been telling the court it was "very upsetting" to see the toddler self-harming.

Nyomi Fee said she and her partner Rachel Fee were concerned about changes in Liam's behaviour and believed he might have autism.

She also said there was "never any requirement to punish" the toddler.

The couple deny killing the two-year-old at a house near Glenrothes in Fife in March 2014.

The pair also face allegations that they neglected Liam and abused two other children, one of whom they blame for killing Liam, while in their care over a two-year period.

The women, who are both originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear, deny all the charges against them.

Image caption Liam Fee was found dead at a house near Glenrothes in Fife on 22 March 2014

The prosecution case closed last week.

Nyomi Fee was giving evidence in her defence.

She told the court that she began an affair with Rachel in 2010.

When Rachel became pregnant with Liam they made plans to move to Scotland to set up as a family.

Rachel's male partner found out about the affair and they sped up their plans, moving to Glenrothes in December 2011.

Hair pulling

They entered a civil partnership in June 2012.

Nyomi Fee said Liam's behaviour at that time was "fine" but she said they had noticed changes after that.

She said Liam did not want to interact so much and started to pinch himself and pull his own hair.

Ms Fee said she and Rachel discussed autism with the nursery, health visitor and doctor.

"I just had concerns," said Ms Fee. "He had changed. It was like he wasn't the same little boy, so we were very concerned.

"Liam would freak out if it wasn't me that went into the room first. He wouldn't accept anyone coming in. He would bite his fingers, scratch himself, just get very distressed."

She said it was "very upsetting to see Liam self-harming and not knowing what it was and how we could stop it".

Giving lines

Ms Fee said during the same time the couple began to have concerns about sexualised behaviour in a boy they looked after, who was acting is a sexualised way towards Liam.

She told how the escalating behaviour of the young boy they blame for Liam's death put a strain on her relationship with Rachel.

"It was causing stress for us both," she told jurors.

Ms Fee agreed that she would punish the young boy blamed for the death by giving him lines or smacking him, but insisted any punishment was not over an extensive period.

She also told the court: "There was never any requirement to punish Liam."

Asked about her motivation for punishing the other boy, she said: "The main goal was to get the sexualised behaviour to stop."

Ms Fee said it had been to "protect Liam ... from being sexually assaulted."

Asked whether, looking back at her failure to seek expert help and "knowing what you know now", she would do things differently today, the accused replied: "Definitely."

The trial, before judge Lord Burns, at the High Court in Livingston continues on Wednesday.

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