Murder accused 'removed toddler from nursery over Social Services call"
Two women accused of murdering a toddler removed him from nursery after staff contacted social services, a court has heard.
Elizabeth Wilson, 41, from Fife, said she had been told by his mother that two-year-old Liam Fee had stopped going to the private nursery in Kirkcaldy.
Rachel Trelfa or Fee, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 28, deny murdering Liam at a house in Fife in March 2014 and falsely blaming his death on another young boy.
Ms Wilson, a part-time bartender, told the High Court in Livingston she met and became friendly with Rachel when they both kept horses at Grantsmuir Farm near Kirkcaldy.
The witness said she was aware that Liam attended the nursery but was told by Rachel he had stopped going.
Advocate Depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked: "Did Rachel give a reason why it stopped?"
She replied: "Because they had phoned social services. There were a few issues and they called social services on them, I think."
Ms Wilson described an occasion when she met the couple outside a shop and saw Liam in a buggy with a blanket over his head.
Asked what Rachel had said to her, the witness replied: "Don't speak to him or look at him because he'd play up or it would upset him, or something to that effect. Just because she claimed he was autistic."
She told the jury she had some knowledge of autism in relation to her own daughter and had discussed this with Rachel.
"I felt like afterwards she was using snippets of what I'd told her. That's how it felt to me anyway."
Ms Wilson described another occasion when she had been giving Rachel a lift in her car and the other woman's phone had rung.
She said: "I think it was the health visitor. I think Liam was due for a check-up and she just said she wasn't going to answer it.
"She didn't want to take Liam down because he'd scratched himself and he had a few marks on his feet. I said 'just answer the phone and take him down. If there's no problem, just take him'."
Asked if she would have taken her own child to a health-visitor appointment even if they had bruises, she replied: "Yes."
Trelfa and Fee also deny a catalogue of allegations of wilfully ill-treating and neglecting two other young boys.
The witness described another occasion when Rachel told her that one of these boys had sworn at her.
"She said that she washed his mouth out with washing liquid or soap and I said 'you don't do that'."
The witness also said Rachel had once cancelled a lift to take one of the boys to hospital because he "had blisters on his feet which had turned to gangrene, which I thought was a bit dramatic".
"I said 'how has it got to that point? Did you not see his feet were bad?'"
Ms Wilson said she had been told the injuries were the result of tight plimsolls and that her friend had later shown "horrific" photographs of the boy's injuries to people at the horse yard.
"Personally, if it had been me I wouldn't have shown anybody, I would have been mortified," she said.
Mr Prentice asked whether Rachel had ever expressed any concern about how the boys, who cannot be named because of their ages, were disciplined.
Ms Wilson replied: "She did say on occasion she wasn't happy with the way Nyomi disciplined."
She also told the court she had visited the couple's flat along with friends in the summer of 2013, describing it as "not my cup of tea" and "just generally not clean".
Cross-examining the witness, Brian McConnachie QC, representing Rachel, asked if she had been told how expensive the private nursery was.
Ms Wilson agreed she had been told it cost about £300 a month.
He said: "As far as Liam's issues were concerned, it wasn't something that Rachel was in any sense keeping a secret?" "No," she replied.
She also agreed Rachel had not tried to make any secret of the injury to the other boy's feet.
In relation to washing a boy's mouth out with washing-up liquid, Mr McConnachie suggested it had been the child's father that had done so.
"No, she said she had done it," Ms Wilson replied.
The murder charge alleges that Trelfa and Fee assaulted Liam on various occasions between March 15 and March 22 2014.
The couple repeatedly inflicted "blunt force trauma to his head and body", causing injuries so severe that he died on March 22, it is claimed.
Between that date and April 30 2014, the two are said to have taken various steps to avoid detection, arrest and prosecution, and therefore attempted to defeat the ends of justice.
The couple are alleged to have harmed the other two young boys between January 2012 and March 2014.
They deny all the charges.
The trial, before Lord Burns, continues on Tuesday.