Adoptive father convicted of brutally abusing and murdering 18-month-old baby girl

The child reportedly had a bleeding brain, fractured skull, bleeding retinas and damaged ribs.

Father and daughter
Representational picture Pixabay

What could have been a beautiful relationship turned into a fatal encounter for an 18-month-old toddler in Wales. Her adoptive father killed her after months of abuse and torture. Now, the accused, Matthew Scully-Hicks, has been convicted and awaiting sentence.

The child Elsie was being taken care of by Matthew when she suffered a cardiac arrest and was admitted to University Hospital of Wales. She reportedly had a bleeding brain, fractured skull, bleeding retinas and damaged ribs. Doctors have stated that the child must have been "shaken violently" so that her head "rocked backwards and forwards" for her to sustain such injuries.

Elsie had been living with Matthew and his husband Craig in September 2016. Her death occurred in May 2016, before which she had been injured several times.

History of abuse

Six months before she died, Elsie suffered bruises on her head. At that time, Matthew had called the emergency number and reported that his daughter had fallen down the stairs. According to him, the incident occurred as he had not closed the gate properly.

Neighbours' accounts say that Matthew often shouted at his daughter, calling her degrading names and terms like "Satan", "the exorcist" and "psycho". He had also confided in his husband that he was having a tough time dealing with Elsie, especially during mealtime and bedtime.

"I'm going through hell with Elsie. Mealtimes and bedtimes are like my worst nightmare at the minute. She has been up there screaming for 10 minutes non-stop," his text read.

The child had also suffered fractures above her ankle and right knee in November 2015, but they had not been reported till her death. The day she died, Matthew stated that she "went all floppy and limp" while he was changing her clothes before bedtime.

The hearing

The court heard that Matthew's violence is the most probable cause of the child's injuries. Elsie's death was "the tragic culmination of a course of violent conduct on (Scully-Hicks') part towards a defenceless child," said prosecuting barrister Paul Lewis at Cardiff Crown Court. He added that the child should have been "loved and protected", instead of which she was "assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered" by Matthew.

Matthew's husband, Craig, stated that they had a loving home and he was not aware of the abuse or he would have put an end to it.

A unanimous jury convicted the father of murder after a four-week trial. He is set to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Further investigation

A review is going to be conducted on the role of childcare professionals in Elsie's case. Since September 2015, four social workers and health visitors have been making regular visits at the couple's home.

However, her injuries during that period were apparently overlooked by them as well as the hospital staff, including a registrar who saw them in detail.

The couple was given adoption approval by Vale of Glamorgan council, just two weeks before she died. Now, a Child Practice Review is looking "into the tragic circumstances" leading to the toddler's death, including how the adoption was monitored.

Justice Nicola Davies stated that the abuse of little Elsie were a "gross abuse of trust" and the crime of Scully-Hicks can be proved by "compelling evidence."

South Wales Police Cardiff shared a post regarding this case on their Facebook page. Check it out below: