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Fitness instructor murdered 18-month-old daughter Elsie fortnight after adoption

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, inflicted a catalogue of injuries on Elsie in the eight months he had care of her.

A fitness instructor has been convicted of murdering his daughter by violently shaking her and striking her head – just two weeks after adopting her.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, described 18-month-old Elsie as “a psycho”, “the exorcist” and “Satan dressed up in a Baby grow” in text messages.

Cardiff Crown Court heard he struggled to cope with being the primary carer for Elsie as his husband, Craig Scully-Hicks, 36, worked full-time.

Neighbours heard the former lifeguard shouting “shut the f***” up at Elsie and calling her a “little f****** brat” and a “silly little c***” when she cried.

Scully-Hicks, who denied murder, gasped and wept as jurors unanimously convicted him on their fourth day of deliberations.

Prosecutors allege that Scully-Hicks, from Delabole, Cornwall, also inflicted a catalogue of injuries upon Elsie in the eight months he had care of her.

These injuries, including bruises, a broken leg and a fall down the stairs, all took place before Elsie was formally adopted by the couple.

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Elsie (South Wales Police/PA)

During this period, the Vale of Glamorgan Council shared parental responsibility for Elsie with the couple – with social workers regularly visiting their home.

A Child Practice Review has been commissioned “into the tragic circumstances” of Elsie’s death, a spokesman for the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Safeguarding Children Board said.

Elsie was formally adopted by the couple on May 12 last year and suffered fatal injuries at their home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on May 25.

Hours before the attack, Matthew Scully-Hicks had taken her shopping at Marks & Spencer for an outfit to wear at a party celebrating her adoption.

In a 999 call at 6.18pm, he claimed: “I was just changing my daughter for bed and she went all floppy and limp.”

Paramedics arrived at 6.26pm and Elsie was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, where she died four days later.

Tests showed she had suffered three separate areas of bleeding on her brain, bleeding in both eyes, a skull fracture and three rib fractures.

Scully-Hicks insisted he never harmed Elsie but the jury rejected his account after hearing from 12 medical experts and six doctors who treated her.

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