Britain

Family of Elsie Scully-Hicks ‘numb with pain’

The birth family of murdered toddler Elsie Scully-Hicks say they are "numb with pain" and that she would "still be alive today" if she had not been removed from their care.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, wasjailed for at least 18 yearsfor murdering 18-month-old Elsie at his home in Cardiff just two weeks after formally adopting her.

During his trial, Cardiff Crown Court heard he struggled to cope with his adopted daughter before her death in May 2016, describing her as "Satan dressed up in a Baby grow", "a psycho" and "the exorcist" in text messages.

Following the sentencing, the birth family of Elsie – who was originally named Shayla O'Brien – said they were only informed of her death eight months after her murder.

Speaking on behalf of the family, the toddler's grandmother Sian O'Brien said: "We all continue to fight on even though every day we are numb with pain and hurt deep in the knowledge that Shayla was loved unconditionally by us all as a family and knowing that had she not been taken away from us, she would still be alive today."

Image:Scully-Hicks was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years

Ms O'Brien said that at the time of Elsie's birth, her birth mother – Ms O'Brien's daughter – "was not in a position to care for Shayla and she was removed from the hospital five days after birth by social services".

However, the family "continued to have contact with Shayla whilst she was in the care of the foster family", she said.

Ms O'Brien said she started court proceedings in January 2015 to become Elsie's legal guardian but the youngster was put up for adoption in May that year.

She said she wanted to bring her granddaughter up "in a happy, healthy and warm family environment", but that was "all taken away from me when social services and the family court decided I would not be able to cope".

Matthew Scully-Hicks in February 2017
Video:LISTEN: Matthew Scully-Hicks 999 call audio

Ms O'Brien said she was told "out of nowhere" by social services in August 2015 to "say goodbye for the final time as a suitable adoptive family had been found".

"This was completely devastating for us all," she added.

Ms O'Brien said the family had hoped that one day the little girl would be reunited with them.

However, they were visited by social services in January 2017, when they were informed that Elsie, who suffered bleeding in her brain and eyes, a fractured skull and fractured ribs, had died in May the previous year.

"In itself this was devastating news but to then be informed that one of the parents who had adopted her had been charged with murder and was allegedly responsible for her death was completely incomprehensible," Ms O'Brien added.

"A person who had been deemed by the authorities to be a fit and proper person to bring up my granddaughter was responsible for her death, and they took her from me telling me I would be unable to cope."

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