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Fitness instructor accused of adopted baby daughter’s murder frequently shouted at her to 'shut up', court hears

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, routinely verbally abusive towards 18-month-old Elise prior to her death, say neighbours at Cardiff Crown Court

Claire Hayhurst
Wednesday 11 October 2017 14:29 BST
Matthew Scully-Hicks
Matthew Scully-Hicks (PA)

A fitness instructor accused of murdering his adopted daughter repeatedly shouted “shut up” at her, neighbours have told a court.

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

He had formally adopted the 18-month-old with husband Craig Scully-Hicks, 36, an account manager, just two weeks earlier.

​Scully-Hicks, from Delabole, Cornwall, denies murdering Elsie at the couple's four-bedroom home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on 29 May.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that the couple had moved to the property from a house in Wellright Road in Fairwater, Cardiff, in April.

Susan Bevan, who lived next door to the couple in Wellright Road, told the jury: “I would hear her (Elsie) crying.

“On one occasion he was frustrated, saying 'Shut up, shut up, shut up'. It would be 'Shut the f*** up' sometimes.

“It appeared to be exasperated, frustrated - as you would if a baby had been crying a lot.”

Mrs Bevan said she referred to Scully-Hicks as “the one who stayed at home” and his husband as “the one who went to work”.

The court previously heard that Scully-Hicks stopped working full-time to care for Elsie, while his husband worked.

“I do remember one occasion where the baby was crying a lot and, from a mother's point of view, it sounded like a proper cry,” she said.

“It was proper, proper crying. Matt got really, really exasperated with the baby.

“He said 'Shut up, shut up, shut the f*** up'. I remember thinking 'That sounds like a colicky pain, I don't think he realises the baby is in pain'.

“That time really stuck in my mind.”

She confirmed that she never heard the sound of a child being hit, or screaming out, and had “no reason” to be worried about Elsie.

Mrs Bevan's son, James, who moved back home in December 2015, said he could hear the house next door through his bedroom wall.

“I heard a contained tantrum - it was like 'argh',” he said. “It was an adult's voice, followed by the baby crying.

“As the baby was still crying I would hear the door slam.”

Mr Bevan said he also heard Scully-Hicks with Elsie between February and April in 2016.

“The baby was crying,” he said. “I heard the one who stayed at home shout 'Shut up, you little f** brat'.

“The next time, the baby started crying. I heard the one who stayed at home shout 'Shut up, you silly little c***'.

“Eventually the baby stopped crying but then there was a pause and loud music started coming from the house next door.

“It played for the duration of a song and it stopped, by which time the baby had started crying again.

“The one who stayed at home repeatedly said 'Shut up, shut up, shut up' over and over again.”

Mr Bevan said he heard similar incidents “maybe once a week” but only the two stuck in his mind.

Elsie, who was removed from her natural mother within days of her birth in November 2014, went to live with the Scully-Hicks in September 2015.

She fractured her right leg in November that year and suffered bruises to her head in December and January 2016.

On 10 March, she was taken to the University Hospital of Wales after falling down the stairs.

A 27-minute-long 999 call from Scully-Hicks to Wales Ambulance Service after the fall was played to the jury.

He was heard saying “Elsie, Elsie, come on, stay awake, stay awake, stay awake, babe, come on” while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Scully-Hicks claimed Elsie had fallen down the stairs after a wooden stair gate accidentally opened when she pulled herself up on it.

The court has been told that Elsie vomited three times after the fall and did not qualify for a CT scan in Wales.

Scully-Hicks called 999 at about 6.20pm on 25 May, reporting that he had found Elsie unresponsive.

Tests showed Elsie had evidence of both recent and older bleeding in her brain, and haemorrhages in front of her eyes.

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

She died at the hospital in the early hours of 29 May.

Following her death, police found messages allegedly sent by Scully-Hicks describing Elsie as “Satan dressed up in a Babygro”.


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