Liam Fee's killer mum loses appeal
The mum of tragic infant Liam Fee has lost her legal bid to be freed from prison after appeal judges ruled she hadn't fallen victim to a miscarriage of justice.
Lawyers representing the 32-year-old killer claimed Lord Burns, the judge who jailed Fee for 23 and a half years, made mistakes when giving jurors legal instructions at her original trial.
Defence advocate Brian McConnachie QC told the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh last month that Lord Burns didn’t tell jurors that they could convict his client of the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
Mr McConnachie also told the court the evidence that was led in court against Fee may have shown that she wasn’t responsible for murdering two-year-old Liam in Fife.
He said that the jury when considering the evidence in their deliberations may have concluded that Rachel’s 32-year-old partner Nyomi was the person who murdered Liam.
But on Thursday, appeal judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Bracadale and Lord Turnbull rejected Mr McConnachie’s submissions.
In a written judgement issued at the appeal court, Lord Turnbull wrote that Lord Burns had acted correctly during the trial.
Lord Turnbull said that there was enough evidence to show that Fee and her partner Nyomi engaged in a common plan to murder Liam.
He wrote: “In our opinion, these extracts from his charge demonstrate the trial judge gave comprehensive, accurate and helpful directions in relation to the doctrine of concert and its application to the evidence in the present case.
“Given the unusual and complex circumstances this was not an easy exercise and, in our opinion, the trial judge performed his task admirably.
“From all of the references we have identified it is clear that he made it perfectly plain, in relation to both charges, that it was necessary for the jury to be satisfied that both accused had entered into a common plan of the sort which he described.”
Lord Burns jailed Fee for 23 and a half years for murdering Liam at the High Court in Edinburgh in July 2016.
Her civil partner Nyomi was jailed for 24 years for her role in taking Liam’s life.
Jurors heard how the pair spent two years torturing the tot before finally killing him at their home near Glenrothes in March 2014.
The duo left the child with heart injuries similar to the ones found on car crash victims.
They also abused another two boys in their care by imprisoning one in a home made cage and tying another naked to a chair in a dark room that stored snakes and rats.
The court heard how Rachel and Nyomi tried to evade justice for murdering Liam by forcing one of the other children to take the blame for the crime.
Meanwhile, the two women Googled whether they could serve their prison sentences alongside each other in the same prison.
Police eventually discovered that the apparent confession made by the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been made under duress.
They discovered that Nyomi had attempted to frame the child by forcing him to leave his DNA on Liam’s body.
Last month, Fee’s legal team told the appeal court judges that Rachel still maintains her innocence.
However, Mr McConnachie told the appeal court that he believed the evidence led by the Crown against his client could have led jurors to conclude she didn’t murder her son.