Father travelled 100 miles to find daughter dying in hospital 'after being violently shaken by husband'

Matthew Scully-Hicks accused of murdering 18-month-old as court hears he 'struggled to cope'

Natasha Salmon
Wednesday 11 October 2017 14:22
Scully-Hicks, a part-time fitness instructor of Delabole, Cornwall, denies murdering Elsie at the couple's home in Llandaff, Cardiff
Scully-Hicks, a part-time fitness instructor of Delabole, Cornwall, denies murdering Elsie at the couple's home in Llandaff, Cardiff

​A father has described the day his adopted baby daughter was rushed to hospital after suffering “catastrophic injuries”, allegedly at the hands of his husband.

Craig Scully-Hicks broke down in court as he described the phone call from his husband telling him that 18-month-old Elsie Scully-Hicks was “really poorly”.

He rushed 100 miles from his work in Leicester to the hospital in Cardiff to find his daughter on the operating table.

“There were people everywhere and she was just lying on the table... the doctor said there was a problem with her heart and people are working on her,” he said.

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

The couple formally adopted the little girl just two weeks earlier.

A tearful Craig Scully-Hicks, 36, told the jury at Cardiff Crown Court that their home was “filled with love”.

“If I had suspected anything I wouldn’t have tolerated it,” he added.

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

The 18-month-old was rushed to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on 25 May but died four days later.

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

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

Police found messages allegedly sent by Matthew Scully-Hicks, describing Elsie as ”a psycho“ and ”Satan dressed up in a Babygro“.

The court heard Matthew Scully-Hicks gave up full-time work to care for Elsie and her adopted sibling, while Craig Scully-Hicks worked.

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

In November that year, Elsie fractured her right leg when Craig Scully-Hicks was at work.

She suffered bruises to her head in December and January, and was taken to hospital in March 2016 after apparently falling down the stairs.

Craig Scully-Hicks said his husband told him Elsie had ”tumbled“ down to the bottom after a stair gate accidentally opened.

Elsie was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, where she was kept under observation for four hours before being allowed home.

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

”If my daughter's head had been scanned that day I wonder whether we would be here today,“ Craig Scully-Hicks told the jury.

After returning home, Elsie ”lost confidence“ and the couple put symptoms - including vomiting - down to teething and allergies, he said.

”Now that I know what I should have been looking for, I would have taken her back to hospital,“ Craig Scully-Hicks added.

The couple moved house in April 2016 and noticed Elsie seemed to be developing a squint a short time later.

She was referred to an eye clinic but her appointment had not taken place by the time she died.

Wales Ambulance Service received a 999 call from Scully-Hicks at about 6.20pm on 25 May, reporting that he had found Elsie unresponsive.

Craig Scully-Hicks said he drove immediately to the University Hospital of Wales after receiving a call from his husband.

”I remember speaking to the doctor and asking if this was to do with her eye,“ he told the jury.

”He dismissed it. To be fair, everyone had dismissed it for weeks so it wasn't a surprise.

“The doctor said it was probably her heart. I said something to Matt like 'are you sure this isn't to do with her eye, what's going on?'.”

The court heard Matthew Scully-Hicks claimed he had changed Elsie for bed and left her on the floor of the lounge.

She appeared to be asleep when he returned but it became apparent that she was not breathing and he called 999, he said.

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

Prosecutors allege that Elsie was “gripped and violently shaken” and suffered a head injury before her death.

The court has heard Elsie may have had a vitamin D deficiency, which made her bones more susceptible to fractures.

Craig Scully-Hicks said a doctor told him Elsie had a small brain, which may have caused developmental delay.

Elsie did not start teething until she was 18 months old, and was not walking at the time of her death, he said.

Scully-Hicks denies murder and the trial, expected to last for five weeks, continues.

Additional reporting by agencies