A fitness instructor who gave up his job to look after his adopted daughter, murdered her while his “husband” was at work, a court has heard.
Medical tests found that Elsie suffered bleeding on both sides of the brain, had several broken ribs, a fractured left femur and a fractured skull.
Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, killed 18-month-old Elsie, in May 2016, just two weeks after formally adopting her with husband Craig Scully-Hicks, Cardiff Crown Court was told.
Elsie had moved in with the couple at their south Wales home in September 2015, but within days Mr Scully-Hicks, a part time fitness instructor, began sending messages to friends indicating he was struggling to cope.
In one message police found on his iPad, he even described the infant as “Satan dressed up in a baby grow”, the jury heard.
In another message he wrote: “I’m going through hell with Elsie Mealtimes and bedtime are like my worst nightmare at the moment.
“She’s been up there screaming for 10 minutes non stop. She’s just stopped but I doubt that’s the last I’ll hear tonight.”
That evening he also sent a message to “husband” Craig calling the baby “a psycho.”
Neighbours also told the police they heard Mr Scully-Hicks screaming abuse at the child and telling her to “shut up”.
On May 25 last year, just a fortnight after the adoption was finalised, Wales Ambulance Service received a 999 call from the defendant, reporting that his daughter was unresponsive.
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.
Paul Lewis prosecuting said Mr Scully-Hicks had “assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered” the little girl, who ought to have been safe in his care. He 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 or 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.
The court was told that Mr Scully-Hicks met his “husband” while living in Swindon, Wiltshire, in 2006 and the couple moved to Cardiff around five years later. They “married” in Portugal in August 2012 and applied to become adopters later that year.
The couple agreed that Mr 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 Mr Scully-Hicks and his husband in September 2015, aged 10 months. The couple formally adopted Elsie on May 12 2016.
Mr Lewis said: “Within two weeks of Elsie’s formal adoption by the couple, we allege that the defendant had inflicted fatal injuries upon her.”
In November 2015, Elsie suffered an injury to her leg, while his “husband” was at work and the following month she sustained bruises to her head and hand.
On both occasions the court heard, Mr Sully-Hicks, offered differing explanations for the injuries to his “husband” and to doctors.
On January 18, Elsie was taken to hospital in an ambulance, after Mr Scully-Hicks claimed she had fallen downstairs while he was sorting out some washing.
The jury was told that on May 25, Mr Scully-Hicks took Elsie and her adoptive sibling to a playgroup at a children’s centre.
At 6.18pm they were back at home when he called the Welsh Ambulance Service, reporting that Elsie was not awake or breathing. He told the operator: “I was just changing my daughter for bed and she went all floppy and limp.”
During the 999 call, lasting eight minutes and 22 seconds, Mr Scully-Hicks could be heard saying “oh my God” and “this is horrible”.
Paramedics and police who attended the scene found Elsie not breathing and in cardiac arrest. Her ventilator was turned off in the early hours of May 29 and she died later that day.
Mr Scully-Hicks denies one charge of murder and the trial is expected to last for five weeks.