The father of a two-year-old Fife boy has described the harrowing moment he received a phone call telling him the toddler was dead.
Unemployed printer Joseph Johnson was giving evidence on the first day of a murder trial brought following the death of his son Liam Johnson at a house in Thornton, near Glenrothes.
The boy’s mother, Rachel Trelfa or Fee, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 28, are accused of killing him and blaming it on a seven-year-old boy.
The pair are also charged with a catalogue of assault, cruelty and neglect charges involving three boys in their care, including the dead toddler.
At the High Court in Livingston, Mr Johnson, 33, from Newcastle, said he first met their son’s mum Rachel in 2005 and moved in with her shortly afterwards.
Liam was born in the north of England in August 2011 but Trelfa left him for Fee, who lived locally, that December.
Mr Johnson said the split was completely unexpected and left him feeling “devastated”.
He said he subsequently made a failed attempt to get back together with Trelfa.
“She’d fallen out with Nyomi and wanted to get back together with me,” he said.
“I had my reservations about it but it was what I wanted at the time.
“I wanted my family back together.
“She started saying she was getting treated quite badly by Nyomi and wanted to get back to me, things like having her bank cards taken away from her and not being allowed out of the house.
“Things like that she told us everything we’d always thought, that she (Nyomi) was a controlling person who had manipulated her into going away.”
Within 48 hours of the reconciliation Trelfa again left him for Fee, taking Liam with her.
The court heard lawyers became involved in a dispute over access.
Mr Johnson said his new partner, Lisa, answered the phone in their home on March 22 2014.
He said: “It was Nyomi on the phone saying that (a boy) had killed Liam and Liam was dead.
“I asked was it a joke?
“She said: ‘Who the hell would joke about this?’ and the phone went down.
“The next call was a police officer or ambulance man who confirmed it.”
Trelfa and Fee, originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear, deny all charges.
Both are charged with assaulting Liam between January 12 2012 and March 14 2014 and murdering him between March 5 and 22 2014 by inflicting blunt force injuries.