William Eichler 07 November 2017

Welsh council under review after toddler murdered by adoptive father

A review into whether the Vale of Glamorgan Council could have intervened to save toddler Elsie has been launched after her adoptive father was found guilty of her murder.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, was found guilty at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday for the murder of 18-month-old Elsie who died after being violently shaken in May 2016 - two weeks after the adoption was finalised.

The pathologist Dr Stephen Leadbetter told the court Elsie had died from a ‘blunt head injury’ which triggered a cardiac arrest.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council placed Elsie with Scully-Hicks in September 2015 after she was removed from her mother who was reportedly a drug user. The adoption was finalised on 12 May 2016.

Scully-Hicks called 999 in February 2016 claiming Elsie had fallen down their wooden stairs, and he told a health visitor a bruise on the toddlers face and a leg fracture were the results of a fall.

On 25 May 2016, he called emergency services again claiming he had found Elsie unresponsive on the floor after he left her alone in the living room. The jury rejected his claim.

The Regional Safeguarding Children Board have commissioned two independent reviewers to carry out a child practice review - the Welsh equivalent of a serious case review - which will look into the contacts various agencies had with Elsie and Scully-Hicks.

A spokesperson for the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Safeguarding Children Board said: ‘Now that the criminal proceedings have concluded, the Regional Safeguarding Children Board will seek assurance that the independent child practice review, which has already been commissioned, into the tragic circumstances of the child’s death, will be progressed.

‘It would therefore not be appropriate for the Board to comment further until the conclusion of the independent review.’

Photo: © Mick Lobb

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