1. ITV Report

Cornwall man found guilty of murdering 18-month-old adopted daughter

Credit: South Wales Police/Wales News Service

A Cornish fitness instructor has been convicted of murdering his 18-month-old adopted daughter by violently shaking her and striking her head.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, who is from Delabole and now lives in Wales, inflicted a catalogue of injuries on Elsie in the eight months he had care of her.

The toddler suffered bruises, a broken leg and a fall down a full flight of stairs.

She died four days after being violently shaken and sustaining a fractured skull just two weeks after being formally adopted by the defendant and his husband.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Scully-Hicks, who broke in tears when the verdict was returned, struggled to cope with the toddler and branded her "a psycho", "the exorcist" and "Satan dressed up in a Babygro" in text messages.

Scully-Hicks insisted he never harmed Elsie and claimed she must have spontaneously suffered fatal injuries after he changed her for bed at home in Cardiff, on May 25 last year.

But following the trial lasting more than four weeks, during which 12 medical experts and six doctors gave evidence, jurors unanimously found him guilty of murder.

The NSPCC has reacted to the verdict, saying Elsie suffered a horrific death.

Elsie should have been loved and protected by Matthew Scully-Hicks, but instead she suffered prolonged abuse and a horrific death.

The appalling level of violence inflicted on a defenceless child is inexplicable and shocking and Scully-Hicks will now, rightly, face the consequences of this grave crime.

But it is a sad reality that cases of abuse and neglect take place every day in homes across the country. It is all of our responsibility to be alert to the signs that a child may need help and be ready to take action to protect them.

– NSPCC Spokesperson