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'Opportunities missed' to save murdered toddler

'Opportunities missed' to save murdered toddler

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 4:43pm 2nd August 2018. (Updated at 5:50pm 2nd August 2018)

A report into the death of little girl has found that 'opportunities were missed' to save her.

Little Elsie was adopted by Matthew Scully-Hicks, originally from Delabole.

He easily passed the rigorous process allowing him to adopt 18-month-old Elsie, and professionals viewed his care of her as "very positive".

The 31-year-old fitness instructor, who had previously adopted another child, violently shook Elsie and threw her to the floor at their home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on May 25 2016.

The 18-month-old was rushed to hospital with multiple fractures - but doctors couldn't save her.

The toddler died four days after being taken to the University Hospital of Wales, with "catastrophic injuries".

She had a bleed on the brain, a skull fracture, retinal bleeding in both of her eyes and damaged ribs.

You can read more here.

Matthew Scully-Hicks

Scully-Hicks was found guilty of murder back in November last year and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years behind bars.

The judge described Scully-Hicks, who referred to Elsie as "Satan dressed up in a babygrow" in text messages, as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character.

An extended child practice review said workers saw Elsie's injuries in isolation, and lacked "professional curiosity" when they accepted what Scully-Hicks told them.

The report states: "The observations and recording of the large bruise to the child's forehead both by children's services and health was absent.

"This resulted in the large bruise becoming 'invisible' to professionals and did not form part of the building an overall picture of what was happening to the child before the final report to the court prior to the adoption order hearing being made."

You can read more about the report here.

In a joint statement, Co-Chairs of the Cardiff and Vale Regional Safeguarding Board, Lance Carver and Claire Marchant, said: "Everyone involved in Elsie’s care has been deeply affected by her tragic death, and our thoughts and sympathies are with members of her birth family and her adoptive family.

"Ultimately, this tragedy is the result of the actions of the individual convicted of Elsie’s murder, but key learning points have been outlined by the independent review and are being acted upon.

"The Child Practice Review is an opportunity to learn from the events leading up to Elsie’s tragic death. This is not about revisiting the criminal trial.

"All of the Board members welcome the findings of the independent Child Practice Review. From what we have learnt through this review, we can improve future practice, and ensure the effectiveness of our services in protecting children.

"Changes have already been made in the organisations involved in Elsie’s care and steps are now being taken to implement the further recommendations made by the independent review."

 The Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff and Vale UHB and National Adoption Service for Wales all paid tribute to the toddler and her family, as well as saying that lessons have been learnt and changes made.

elsie scully-hicks

"This was a needless and violent crime which took the life of a defenceless young toddler.

"Elsie suffered horrendous physical abuse at the hands of a man who should have protected her and who was viewed by authorities as a positive parent.

"This review is disturbingly clear that opportunities were missed and information was not shared appropriately.

"Learning the lessons of those mistakes is now an absolute priority and it's important that all agencies adopt this review's recommendations swiftly."

NSPCC Cymru/Wales

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