A MOTHER and her partner have denied murdering her two-year-old son and blaming his death on a seven-year-old boy.
Rachael Fee, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 28, who are also charged with ill-treating and neglecting two young boys over a two year period, appeared in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow.
They both denied the murder and trial was set for April 4, 2016 at the High Court in Livingston by judge Lady Rae.
Brian McConnachie QC, representing Rachael Fee, who is also known as Rachael Trelfa, and Mark Stewart QC, representing Nyomi Fee, both tendered not guilty pleas on their client’s behalf.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said: “The duration of the trial is likely to be eight weeks, though it is difficult to be precise in a case of this nature.”
The women, who are in a civil partnership, deny murdering two-year-old Liam Johnson - also known as Liam Fee - by repeatedly inflicting blunt force trauma to his head and body by unknown means at 21 Donald Crescent, Thornton, Fife, on various occasions between March 15 and 22, 2014.
They also pleaded not guilty to attempting to defeat the end of justice by falsely telling a 999 operator, ambulance personnel, police and friends and family members that a seven-year-old boy was responsible for the death of Liam.
It is also alleged that on various occasions between January 2012 and March 2014 they failed to provide Liam with adequate exercise or physical and mental stimulation by leaving him in his pushchair for prolonged periods, putting a blanket over his face and tape socks to his hands and leaving him in a darkened room.
It is also claimed they failed to provide him with enough food and gave him medicine intended for another child and Calpol in order to keep him quiet and make him sleep.
The two women, who now live in Ryton, Tyne and Wear, England, also deny harming two young boys from January 2012 to March 2014.
It is alleged that the pair compelled one of the boys to stand naked under a cold shower as a punishment for wetting the bed, then pushed him and told him to stand still if his body shook.
The Crown also claim that they locked him in a cage they built using a metal fire guard and wood for prolonged periods during the day and night.
It is alleged that the couple bound the child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to the cage with cable ties, string, the cord from a dressing gown, placed items on him and struck him if the objects fell off, poured water over him and pretended he had urinated and on occasions force him to sit with his feet raised from the ground and refused to let him put them down.
The Crown also claims that the Fees put soap in his mouth, forced him to sleep in a closed drawer and failed to provide him with adequate food.
The pair are also accused of binding his arms and legs to a cot and on one occasion putting a cage filled with rats on his head.
It is also alleged that they forced the boy’s hand into the mouth of Liam, who was dead, on March 22, last year, prior to the arrival of the police and paramedics.
The Crown claims that the pair told the second young boy that his father was dead and that they had killed him.
Fees are also charged with tying the boy naked to a chair in their bedroom where they kept rats, snakes and a boa constrictor and telling him that the boa constrictor ate naughty boys and forcing him to sleep there on his own in the dark overnight.
The Crown also claims that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was compelled to stand facing a wall for prolonged periods without moving and was slapped if he did move.
Both women deny all the charges against them. They are on bail.