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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Man convicted of murdering adopted daughter appeals for funds to 'prove innocence'

Written by Johanna Carr

A fundraising appeal has been launched to help pay for the legal costs of a part-time fitness instructor who claims he was wrongly convicted of murdering his adopted baby daughter.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 18 years after being found guilty of inflicting a catalogue of injuries on 18-month-old Elsie, who had been formally adopted by him and his husband, Craig, just two weeks before her death.

His trial at Cardiff Crown Court, which ended last month, heard Elsie suffered bruises, a broken leg and a fall down a full flight of stairs during the eight months Scully-Hicks had care of her.

She died four days after being violently shaken and sustaining a fractured skull, subdural bleeding and retinal haemorrhages, at the couple's home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on May 25, 2016.

A website called the Scully-Hicks Innocence Project, says it wants to raise "awareness of the shortfalls and out of date theories used in the justice system" to help Scully-Hicks and his family with their legal investigation and costs for an appeal, which they say will also "help other families going through a similar situation".

An article published on the site named In Matthew's Words, claiming to be Scully-Hicks' version of the events surrounding Elsie's death, calls for help to "prove my innocence".

It says: "I can't do that from prison, and that is where I am hoping I can rely on the people that knew me and knew Elsie.

"The people that, like me, know this doesn't make sense, and the people who can provide insight or evidence that can help me and other families that have been through a similarly awful experience."

The article addresses a number of aspects of the prosecution case against Scully-Hicks (pictured) including text messages in which he branded Elsie "a psycho", "the exorcist" and "Satan dressed up in a Babygro".

It says: "On inspection of the messages, I had realised that the prosecution had cut sections of my messages out to paint a worse picture.

"They left out the sections that showed emotion or humour, to leave a cold cross section of a conversation."

The article also points to an incident which took place more than two months before the toddler's final hospitalisation as being a possible cause of her death.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Elsie was taken to hospital by ambulance on March 10 2016, after Scully-Hicks called 999 claiming she had fallen down the stairs.

She was kept under observation for a number of hours but no CT scan was performed.

Medical experts told the trial this incident - which a family court judge had previously attributed to another episode of shaking rather than a fall - could not account for the catastrophic injuries Elsie suffered before her death.

In the article, it says of the March hospital visit: "We were told that Elsie seemed to be okay and we could go home.

"We weren't given a leaflet or any advice other than to come back if anything changed.

"I have since seen a copy of the assessment form that shows the section about aftercare.

"The head injury leaflet wasn't completed or signed.

"Also since Elsie passed away I learned that Elsie was one instance of sickness away from having a head scan.

"One that I believe could have saved her life."

The article also discusses evidence given by defence witness Professor Michael Holick, an American endocrinologist who specialises in vitamin D, who said he believed Elsie was deficient in vitamin D and showed signs of having rickets, which he said explained her fractures.

His diagnosis was disputed by other medical experts including Professor Anthony Freemont who told the jury there was "nothing at all" to suggest that Elsie's bones were anything other that healthy or normal and that he found no evidence of vitamin D deficiency or rickets.

The article describes receiving Prof Holick's reports days before the trial started in October and says: "I finally had proof of something that made sense of some of this awful situation."

The article, published on December 7, concludes: "I have now missed the opportunity to say goodbye to my daughter at her funeral that was held last week, and I don't want to miss any more of my family for any longer than I have to.

"Anything you think that can help share awareness or anything to help my cause - please share it.

"There is nothing that can bring Elsie back, but we can change the version of what happened.

"Elsie wasn't a victim, she was my much loved little princess who I miss with all my heart."

A crowdfunding page set up on Just Giving says the Scully-Hicks Innocence Project is aiming to raise £10,000 to go towards Scully-Hicks' appeal and legal costs.

So far it has raised £40 from two donations.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) South Wales Police / PA Wire.