Jurors in the trial of a mother accused of murdering her two-year-old son with her civil partner have been told to put any sympathy or prejudice aside as they prepare to consider a verdict in the “highly emotional” case.
Rachel Trelfa, 31, and 29-year-old Nyomi Fee deny fatally assaulting Liam Fee, who died at a house near Glenrothes in Fife on 22 March, 2014.
The pair say another boy, who cannot be identified, was responsible for his injuries.
Judge Lord Burns has begun directing the jury at the High Court in Livingston, where he said while the Crown case asks that inferences be drawn from the evidence presented, they should not be tempted “to fill in any gaps”.
Lord Burns said: “Those inferences must be reasonable and must not amount to speculation.”
He said there is a danger of feelings of prejudice or sympathy in the “highly emotional” case, and that members of the jury “would be made out of granite” if they had not been moved by some of the evidence.
But the judge said: “You must act impartially and dispassionately.”
The couple are accused of repeatedly inflicting “blunt force trauma” to Liam’s head and body and of the ill treatment and neglect of two other boys.
The pair have admitted during evidence that they failed to seek medical help for Liam for a suspected broken leg in the days before his death.
Trelfa said she feared social workers would be alerted and remove her child from her care.
Her lawyer Brian McConnachie QC told the jury: “By failing to get medical help, Rachel Fee committed an unforgivable crime and in due course she will be rightly and justly punished for that. That does not make her a murderer.”
He also urged them not to let any emotional feeling sway their judgment, telling them: “This is as harrowing a case as any jury is likely to have to listen to.”
He said video interview evidence given by two boys which was led by prosecutors was “contaminated” because of the way the interview process was carried out, and that there was no direct evidence that Trelfa ever assaulted Liam.
Prosecutors say while the case against the pair is circumstantial, there is “clear and compelling” evidence against the women, including that given by the two boys in video interviews.
The trial continues.