Elsie Scully-Hicks jury hears 999 calls by father accused of her murder

Steven Morris
Matthew Scully-Hicks is accused of killing Elsie two weeks after he and Craig Scully-Hicks formally adopted the 18-month-old. He denies murder. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Harrowing recordings of two 999 calls made by a father accused of murdering his 18-month-old adoptive daughter have been released.

During a call made by Matthew Scully-Hicks on the day Elsie allegedly sustained fatal injuries, he described her as being “floppy and limp” and the operator can be heard instructing him to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Two months earlier, Scully-Hicks had also dialled 999 to report that Elsie had fallen down the stairs of the home in Cardiff he shared with husband Craig Scully-Hicks.

In the recording of this emergency call he can be heard apparently trying to keep the little girl awake. He told the operator: “Her eyes are opening and they’re rolling around, I think she’s looking at me now but she’s not moving.”

Fitness instructor Matthew Scully-Hicks, 36, is accused of killing Elsie two weeks after he and Craig Scully-Hicks formally adopted her. He denies murder.

On Friday the Crown Prosecution Service provided audio recordings and transcripts of the 999 calls made on the day Elsie allegedly suffered the fatal injuries and on the previous occasion two months earlier. The jury at Cardiff crown court has heard the recordings.

Elsie Scully-Hicks was found to have suffered subdural bleeding and fractures to her skull, three ribs and a leg. Photograph: Family handout/PA

Matthew Scully-Hicks dialled the emergency services at 6.18pm on 25 May 2016. He told the operator: “I was just changing my daughter for bed and she went all floppy and limp, and now she’s not doing anything, she is lying on the floor.”

He explained that he was trying to do CPR. The operator asked him to put his ear next to the girl’s mouth and listen for her breathing. He said: “She just took a breath in but it’s, she’s not breathing out.”

The operator told him how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Matthew Scully-Hicks said he had done this and continued: “I saw the chest going in and out.” Next the operator guided him through chest compressions. Later he could be heard saying: “Oh my God” and “This is horrible”.

The jury has heard that after Elsie was taken to hospital she was found to have suffered subdural bleeding and fractures to her skull, three ribs and a leg. She also had bleeding in both eyes. She died four days after being admitted.

On 10 March, Matthew Scully-Hicks had dialled 999 and told the operator: “My daughter’s fallen down the stairs, she’s not responding to me, she, she’s just lying there.”

Asked what caused the fall he said: “I didn’t push the gate closed properly and she fell down.”

He added: “She’s just, she’s just lying there, she’s just all floppy … Her eyes are opening and they’re rolling around, I think she’s looking at me now but she’s not moving.”

Later he said: “Oh my God, she’s being sick … I’ve got her on her side … ah there’s a bit of blood in there as well.” Elsie could be heard vomiting. He said: “Let it out love, let it out love, let it out babe.”

He told the girl: “Elsie, Elsie, stay with me love. Good girl, Elsie, Elsie, Elsie, stay awake, stay awake, stay awake Elsie … Elsie stay awake love, stay awake … Elsie come on.”

He appeared to go away from the phone to fetch a rattle-like toy and kept talking to Elsie. The sound of coughing and crying could be heard as the ambulance crew arrived.

On this occasion Elsie’s injuries were considered to be consistent with a fall down stairs and she was allowed to go home.

On Friday the jury heard from a pathologist who said injuries to the child’s eyes were similar to those that the victim of a severe car crash might be expected to suffer.

Dr Richard Bonshek, a consultant ophthalmic pathologist who examined Elsie’s eyes after she had died, said he found bleeding in the retinas of both eyes, the coverings of the optic nerves, the optic nerve sheaths and in the tissue around the optic nerve in both eyes.

He said: “Comparing these changes [in Elsie’s eye] with changes I have seen in other cases … I think that for accidental causes then one is talking of severe motor vehicle accidents, falls from heights [or] in cases when a child has been accidentally propelled down stairs or a child has been thrown down stairs.”

Bonshek added the injuries were so severe that had Elsie survived she would “most probably” have had problems with her sight. “In terms of non-accidental injuries, these findings have been described in cases which have been ascribed to shaking as well of cases of shaking and impact, and impact alone,” he added.

Dr Stephen Rose, a consultant paediatrician, told the jury on Thursday that in his view it was likely that Elsie had been shaken violently and that her head had been “rocked backwards and forwards so that her head was flexed down on to her chest and flexed backwards”.

Of Elsie’s skull fracture, he said: “There must have been a cause of the fracture, skull fractures don’t occur spontaneously, and so the only mechanism for a skull fracture is if there was a blow to the head, either during the shaking injury which culminated in Elsie being thrown against a hard floor, or possibly her head being knocked against a wall.”

The trial continues.

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