Man murdered infant daughter two weeks after adoption, trial told

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A fitness instructor murdered his 18-month-old daughter just two weeks after he and his husband formally adopted her, a jury has been told.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, is accused of killing Elsie after “assaulting and abusing” her.

Cardiff crown court heard Scully-Hicks and his husband, Craig, began looking after her in September 2015 and the adoption process was finalised about eight months later.

But less than two weeks after this, Elsie died in hospital having suffered traumatic head injuries. Scully-Hicks, of Delabole, north Cornwall, denies murdering the child at the couple’s home in Llandaff, Cardiff.

Paul Lewis QC, prosecuting, said Wales ambulance service received a 999 call from Scully-Hicks at about 6.20pm on 25 May 2016, reporting that Elsie was unresponsive. Paramedics arrived and found the child was not breathing.

She received first aid from the paramedics before being taken to the University Hospital of Wales, where she died in the early hours of 29 May.

Lewis said: “It is the prosecution case that the injuries that caused Elsie’s death were inflicted upon her by the defendant shortly before he called the emergency services on that day.

“We allege that his attack on her on that day was not the first time that he had employed violence towards Elsie, nor was it the first time that he had caused her serious injury.

“We allege that his actions on the late afternoon/evening of 25 May were the tragic culmination of a course of violence conduct on his part towards a defenceless child – an infant he should have loved and protected, but whom he instead assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered.”

Medical tests at the hospital found Elsie had bilateral subdural haemorrhages, bleeding on both sides of her brain.

There was evidence of both recent and older bleeding in her brain.

A postmortem revealed Elsie also had several broken ribs, a fractured left femur and a fractured skull.

Jurors were told the child, described as “tiny and delicate” but with a “brash and bouncy” personality by Scully-Hicks’s husband, Craig, a company director, was with her new family for less than two months when her right leg was broken in November 2015.

On that occasion, Matthew Scully-Hicks allegedly told Craig that Elsie had fallen in the kitchen of their home that morning as she was playing.

Lewis told the jury: “He said that Elsie had been upset following her fall but he had picked her up and consoled her and she had then seemed fine.”

The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.

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