Rachel Fee Murder Appeal Thrown Out
9 March 2017, 14:21 | Updated: 9 March 2017, 14:24
A mother jailed for life for murdering her toddler son has had her appeal against conviction rejected.
Rachel Fee, 32, argued the judge in her 2016 trial misdirected the jury about the lesser charge of culpable homicide before sending them out to consider their verdict.
Two-year-old Liam Fee died at his home near Glenrothes, Fife, on March 22, 2014 following a campaign of horrific abuse spanning more than two years.
Fee, also known as Trelfa, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 30, were both convicted of grossly abusing their position of trust to inflict appalling suffering on the child after subjecting him to a ''cruel and pitiless regime'' of abuse and neglect.
He had suffered fatal heart injuries similar to those found on road crash victims and spent the last few days of his short life in agony from an untreated broken leg and fractured arm.
The pair - originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear - were also convicted of being behind a catalogue of unspeakable cruelty against two boys in their care, one of whom they tried to blame for Liam's death.
Judge Lord Burns last year handed both women life sentences and ordered Rachel Fee to serve a minimum of 23-and-a-half years behind bars while ''domineering'' Nyomi Fee was told to spend at least 24 years in prison.
Senior judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh heard arguments from Fee's legal team and the Crown last month, and have now rejected the appeal in a written opinion.
Fee's appeal centred on what her defence team said was a misdirection by the trial judge during his legal summing-up at the High Court in Livingston, West Lothian, in May.
Defence QC Brian McConnachie told the court the judge did not present to the jury "the possibility that they could convict Nyomi Fee of murder and convict the appellant (Rachel Fee) of culpable homicide''.
The lawyer submitted there was a case, on the evidence, for the jury to identify co-accused Nyomi Fee as having been the main ''actor'' in committing the murder.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, argued it was a ''clear case in which the Crown had established concert for murder''.
The appeal verdict, delivered by Lord Turnbull, concluded: "There is therefore no basis upon which it could be said that the appellant did anything less than actively associate herself with a common criminal purpose which included the taking of human life, or carried the obvious risk that human life would be taken, in the carrying-out of which murder was committed.
"In the circumstances of this case the evidence led by the Crown clearly established that the appellant had associated herself with a purpose which carried with it the obvious risk that life would be taken.
"We therefore agree with the trial judge and the advocate depute that the directions argued for by the appellant were correctly omitted.
"For the reasons which we have given, the appeal against conviction is refused.''