THE grandmother of a baby murdered by her adoptive father wanted to bring her up herself in a ‘happy family’, it can be reported for the first time.
Sian O’Brien said 18-month-old Elsie Scully-Hicks would still be alive today if her bid to become the child’s legal guardian had been approved.
Instead, Elsie was entrusted to Matthew Scully-Hicks and husband Craig, 36, who had a full-time job.
Scully-Hicks, 31, who was sentenced to life in prison for the toddler’s murder yesterday, struggled to cope as her main carer. He once described her in text messages as ‘Satan dressed up in a baby grow’ and ‘a psycho’.
In May 2016 — two weeks after the formal process of adoption was completed — he shook Elsie violently and struck her head, causing injuries that proved fatal.
Ms O’Brien said: ‘I wanted to bring her up in a happy, healthy and warm family environment. That was all taken away from me when social services and the family court decided I would not be able to cope.’
Ms O’Brien said she accepted that her daughter was living a ‘chaotic lifestyle’ and was not able to care for her baby.
Social services put the child into care five days after her birth in November 2014 but the family — who named her Shayla — still saw her regularly.
In January 2015, Ms O’Brien applied to become guardian but social services decided adoption elsewhere was best.
The following August, she was told she should go to say her goodbyes as soon as possible as a suitable family had been found and contact would stop.
It was only last January that a social worker visited to tell the family the baby had died eight months earlier.
Mrs Justice Davies took account of Ms O’Brien’s statement before sentencing Scully-Hicks at Cardiff crown court.
She told him the crime was made even worse as he had attacked Elsie before — fracturing her leg in two places in November 2015 and bruising her forehead the following month. He knew he had a ‘predisposition’ to injure her but took no steps to prevent it happening again, the judge said.
Had the leg fractures been noticed when Elsie was examined at University Hospital of Wales, child protection measures would have been triggered that could have saved Elsie, she added.
Scully-Hicks, who killed the baby at his home in Cardiff and later moved to Delabole, in Cornwall, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years. He had denied murder but was convicted by a jury.
Ms O’Brien said: ‘Every day, we are numb with pain and deep hurt 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.’