Social Media


Monday, 09 October 2017

Fitness coach abused and murdered 18-month-old adopted daughter, court told

Written by Claire Hayhurst and Rod Minchin

A fitness instructor "assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered" his 18-month-old adopted daughter, a court has heard.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, is accused of inflicting serious injuries on Elsie Scully-Hicks before her death in May 2016.

Cardiff Crown Court (pictured) heard Scully-Hicks had formally adopted Elsie with his husband, Craig Scully-Hicks, just two weeks earlier.

Scully-Hicks, a part-time fitness instructor of Delabole, Cornwall, denies murdering Elsie at the couple's home in Llandaff, Cardiff.

The court heard that Wales Ambulance Service received a 999 call from Scully-Hicks at about 6.20pm on May 25, reporting that Elsie was unresponsive.

Paul Lewis QC, prosecuting, told the jury that paramedics attended the house and found Elsie was not breathing, with no signs of cardiac output.

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

"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," Mr Lewis said.

"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 May 25 were the tragic culmination of a course of violence conduct on his part towards a defenceless child - an infant that he should have loved and protected, but whom he instead assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered."

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

There was evidence of both recent and older bleeding in her brain. Haemorrhages were also found in front of both of Elsie's eyes.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Elsie had also suffered several broken ribs, a fractured left femur and a fractured skull.

The court heard that Scully-Hicks has no criminal convictions.

He met his husband - who is about five years older than him - while living in Swindon, Wiltshire, in about 2006.

Mr Scully-Hicks originally came from South Wales and the couple relocated to Cardiff in 2010 or 2011.

They married in Portugal in August 2012 and applied to become adopters later that year.

It was agreed that Scully-Hicks would give up full-time work to care for any children, with his husband continuing with his job as a company director.

Elsie was removed from her natural mother, a drug user, within days of her birth in November 2014, the court heard.

She was placed in the care of Vale of Glamorgan Council and later went to live with the Scully-Hicks in September 2015, aged 10 months.

The couple formally adopted Elsie on May 12 2016.

"Within two weeks of Elsie's formal adoption by the couple, we allege that the defendant had inflicted fatal injuries upon her," Mr Lewis said.

Mr Lewis said Elsie was generally "well and healthy" but had been slow in reaching some developmental milestones such as walking.

Mr Scully-Hicks described her physically as being "tiny and delicate" but with a "brash and bouncy" personality, the jury was told.

On November 5 2015, Elsie suffered an injury to her right leg when Mr Scully-Hicks was at work.

She was taken to the doctor four days later and an X-ray at hospital on November 12 revealed a fracture just above her right ankle.

Mr Lewis said Scully-Hicks gave differing accounts of how Elsie suffered the injury to his husband and to doctors.

On December 16, while Mr Scully-Hicks was at work, Elsie sustained a bruise to the left hand side of her forehead.

A health visitor advised Scully-Hicks to take Elsie for treatment on December 21. He allegedly lied that he had done so.

On January 18 2016, Elsie suffered another bruise to her head.

Mr Scully-Hicks received a phone call from his husband on March 10, saying that he was in an ambulance with Elsie as she had fallen down the stairs.

He claimed to have been sorting washing in a bedroom, with Elsie on the floor, before going downstairs - closing the gate behind him.

"He said he had then seen Elsie at the top of the stairs, that the baby gate had then opened and that Elsie had tumbled down the stairs," Mr Lewis said.

Mr Scully-Hicks was working in Leicester at the time but immediately headed to Cardiff, meeting the defendant at the University Hospital of Wales.

Elsie's injuries were considered to be "consistent with a fall downstairs" and she was discharged home after four hours in hospital, Mr Lewis said.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.