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17 May 2016, 16:54
A woman accused of murdering toddler Liam Fee has told her trial of concerns she had over changes in the two-year-old's development.
Nyomi Fee, 28, said she found it "very upsetting'' to see the boy "harm'' himself and not know what could be done to stop it.
Fee is on trial for a sixth week at the High Court in Livingston alongside her civil partner Rachel Trelfa, or Fee, 31.
Both Fee and Trelfa - Liam's mother - deny murdering toddler Liam, who died at a house in Fife on March 22, 2014, and falsely blaming his death on another boy.
The pair - originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear - also plead not guilty to a string of allegations of wilfully ill-treating and neglecting two young boys over a period of more than two years.
Fee is the first witness to give evidence for the defence after the Crown closed the prosecution case on Friday.
During questioning by her defence QC Mark Stewart on the 25th day of the trial, she covered various topics including the development of Liam, who was born in August 2011.
The court heard how, by July 2012, Liam went to a childminder and his behaviour was "fine'' at that stage.
But later on that year, she said they began to have concerns about behaviour in a boy they looked after, who was acting in a sexualised way towards Liam.
As that progressed, she said she began to notice changes in Liam's behaviour, including that he would pinch and bite himself.
Fee told how she voiced her concerns about the toddler's behaviour to staff at the nursery which Liam had gone on to attend.
"Did you know as a matter of fact that there was something wrong with Liam?'' asked Mr Stewart.
"No, I just had concerns,'' said Fee.
"He had changed. It was like he wasn't the same little boy, so we were very concerned that there was something.
"Liam would freak out if it wasn't me that went into the room first. He wouldn't accept anyone coming in. He would bite his fingers, scratch himself, just get very distressed.''
Fee said she had started to raise concerns with various professionals about Liam's behaviour around January or February 2013 and would raise the possibility that the child had autism.
"It was very upsetting to see Liam self-harming and not know why it is and what we could do to stop it,'' she said.
By the time Liam left nursery in June 2013, his behaviour continued to deteriorate, the court heard.
"It was worrying at the time, it was getting progressively worse,'' Fee told the court.
She also denied any of the youngsters were scared of the snakes kept in the house or that they were deprived of food or access to the toilet.