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Social services promise thorough review into tot Liam Fee killed by his mum and her partner

By Catriona Webster and Lynsey Bews

Published 01/06/2016

Two-year-old Liam Fee. Photo: Police Scotland/PA Wire
Two-year-old Liam Fee. Photo: Police Scotland/PA Wire
Rachel Fee (left) and her partner Nyomi Fee have been found guilty of murdering two-year-old Liam Fee

A case review into the death of a toddler murdered by his mother and her civil partner will be "thorough and comprehensive", a child protection body has said.

A probe is under way into the circumstances leading to the death of Liam Fee after the convictions of his mother Rachel Fee (31) and partner Nyomi Fee (29) amid claims a number of people raised concerns about his health.

Dougie Dunlop, vice chair of Fife Child Protection Committee, described the death as a "tragedy" and said the body would reflect on the case "to see if there is any scope for improvement".

The couple denied killing Liam, blaming his death on one of two other boys in their care, but they were found guilty of murder, assault and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

They were also convicted of a catalogue of abuse against the two boys, including imprisoning one in a home-made cage and tying another naked to a chair in a room with snakes and rats. They will be sentenced on July 6.

During the trial, childminder Heather Farmer, who looked after Liam at her home, said she had raised concerns the toddler was being hurt by someone.

After the boy started at the Sunshine Nursery in Kirkcaldy in March 2013, staff also noticed injuries and contacted authorities.

Patricia Smith, who knew the couple, said she also contacted social workers after seeing the toddler looking "deathly".

The court additionally heard from Karen Pedder, a team manager with child protection at Fife Council, who dealt with concerns about Liam in 2013 and admitted he had dropped "off the radar''.

A social worker and police officers were sent to the couple's home in January that year, but a "plausible'' explanation was given that Liam had bumped his head and no action was taken.

The boy was found dead at his home near Glenrothes in March 2014 with heart injuries caused by a severe blunt force trauma to his chest and abdomen. Pathologists also found more than 30 external injuries to his body and arm and thigh fractures.

Responding to the verdicts, Mr Dunlop said: "Liam's death was a tragedy that has left everyone deeply shocked and saddened.

"The Chief Officers' Group have commissioned a significant case review. We want to provide reassurance that this will be thorough and comprehensive."

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told the court the women were guilty of "unyielding, heartless cruelty" and had shown "callous indifference" to Liam's suffering.

The jury heard there was an escalation of violence towards the toddler before his death, which included the pair failing to get help for him when they knew he had a broken leg.

Instead of seeking aid, they Googled terms such as "can wives be in jail together?"

They tried to shift the blame for the death onto the boy of primary school age, who they claimed had been acting in a sexualised way towards Liam.

The youngster initially admitted he strangled the toddler before changing his story. It later became clear suffocation was not the cause of death.

Liam's father Joseph Johnson was in tears as he left the court. Mr Prentice said: "It is impossible to express in words the sense of loss that he feels."

Belfast Telegraph

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