A mother and her partner have been convicted of murdering her 2-year-old son and of abusing two other children in a long litany of cruelty that included beatings, being forced to eat vomit, and being tied up and left in rooms with snakes and rats, prosecutors said.
Rachel Trelfa Fee, 31, and Nyomi Fee, 28, were found guilty Tuesday of killing the boy, who was hit so hard in the stomach that it ruptured his heart and killed him, a pathologist ruled. The toddler had 30 injuries at the time of his death, including a broken arm and a broken leg, for which the women had never sought treatment, a court in Scotland heard.
The case has been called one of the most shocking child abuse trials ever to take place in a Scottish court. Liam was Rachel Trelfa Fee’s son from a previous marriage to the boy’s father.
The women denied abusing Liam, despite a history of a social service visits and reports from his babysitter and two nurseries he attended.
The couple blamed his death on one of the children living with them. Both are boys in in primary school whose names and ages were not given, Britain’s The Telegraph reported.
A child protection officer testified during the seven-week trial that Liam had “dropped off the radar” after a case worker took sick leave. There had been numerous reports of bruises and lethargic behavior made by the babysitter and workers at the two separate nurseries he attended, according to testimony, the paper reported.
The women told social services that Liam’s injuries were caused by falling, or by “pinching himself,” prosecutors said.
Authorities said the two had convinced one of the boys to say he had strangled Liam, but specially trained child abuse detectives were able to elicit a catalogue of tortures suffered by all three children in interviews with the two young survivors.
Police were summoned in March 2014 to the couple’s Fife apartment, where the women said Liam had been killed the other child.
The boys later told police their misery included being forced to stand naked or in their underwear inside a cage. The women threatened to cut off one boy’s penis and made him go without food. They also said bedwetting was punished by long, freezing showers, after which they would be forced to stand naked while they drip-dried and shook from the cold.
They were forced to sleep in rooms with rats and snakes, the boys told police. SPCA officers removed a family of rats, nine snakes and two dogs from the property, according to testimony. One boy was made to eat his own vomit.
The women were convicted on eight abuse and neglect charges.
They are scheduled to be sentenced on July 6. They face a maximum punishment of life in prison.