Matthew and Craig Scully-Hicks married in 2012 and applied to become adoptive parents later that year.
The eager parents-to-be agreed that Matthew would give up his full time job as a fitness trainer in order to care for any future children, while Craig would continue his job as company director, The Telegraph reported.
In 2015, the couple welcomed then 10-month-old Elsie into their home. Eight months later, the adoption was finalized. Elsie had been removed from her birth mother’s care days after her birth in 2014.
However, within days of the official adoption, Matthew sent questionable messages to friends that indicated he was struggling with the transition. Messages included:
“I’m going through hell with Elsie Mealtimes and bedtime are like my worst nightmare at the moment.”
“She’s been up there screaming for 10 minutes non stop. She’s just stopped but I doubt that’s the last I’ll hear tonight.”
In a message found on his iPad, Matthew described Elsie as, “Satan dressed up in a baby grow” (a BabyGro is a type of onesie).
Two weeks after the adoption, the stressed-out man texted his husband, calling the baby “a psycho.”
Neighbors also reported hearing him shouting at the baby, telling her to “shut up.”
On May 25, 2016, Matthew placed a call to the Wales Ambulance Service telling them that his daughter was unresponsive. By the time he called the ambulance service, Elsie was neither awake nor breathing. He told the operator:
“I was just changing my daughter for bed and she went all floppy and limp.”
During the emergency call, which lasted more than eight minutes, operators heard Matthew saying “Oh, my God” and “This is horrible.”
When paramedics arrived at the scene, Elsie was in cardiac arrest. She was placed on a ventilator when she arrived at the hospital. The machine was shut off less than four days later, and she died shortly after.
This isn’t the first case of alleged violence that Matthew has against him.
Prosecutors said during the trail that the November before the couple’s official adoption of Elsie, she suffered a leg injury, and the following month, she had bruises on her head and hand, according to the Telegraph. Matthew gave his husband and doctors differing stories for how she sustained her injury.
In January, just months before her death, Elsie was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Matthew claimed she had “fallen downstairs while he was sorting out some washing,” the prosecution said.
One prosecutor, Paul Lewis, told the court:
“We allege that his attack on her on that day was not the first time that he had employed violence towards Elsie, nor was it the first time that he had caused her serious injury.
We allege that his actions on the late afternoon or evening of May 25 were the tragic culmination of a course of violence conduct on his part towards a defenceless child — an infant that he should have loved and protected, but whom he instead assaulted, abused and ultimately murdered.”
Medical tests showed that Elsie had several broken ribs, a fractured femur and skull, as well as “bleeding on both sides of the brain.”
Matthew pleaded not guilty to the one charge of murder.
However, Craig is sticking by his husband. He told the court that his house had been “filled with love and happiness, all the time,” the BBC reports.
“If I had suspected anything I wouldn’t have tolerated it.”
According to the BBC, Jodie Golten, the social worker who visited Elsie three times, told the court:
“She was a happy, smiley child. Loving life I suppose. She was lovely, smiles all around.”
She had no concerns for Elsie’s well-being. After her first visit with the family, Golten had written in her notes:
“She appears to have a lovely bond growing with Matt. Both giving lovely eye contact and playing together.”
His trial continues.