The birth family of a baby murdered by her gay adoptive father have said she would “still be alive today” if she had not been taken away by social services.
After Monday saw Matthew Scully-Hicks sentenced to life in prison for beating Elsie Scully-Hicks to death just two weeks after her formal adoption, it emerged that the baby had a loving natural family who had fought to keep her with them.
The toddler, who was taken away within days of her birth from her drug user mother, died in hospital in May last year, after four days in a coma having suffered “catastrophic head injuries”.
A victim impact statement reported by the Press Association on Wednesday, detailed how Elsie’s birth family was “extremely attached to her and loved her very much”, and remained in contact throughout the fostering process.
Sian O’Brien, the natural grandmother of Elsie — who was named Shayla after her birth in November 2014 — started proceedings in the family court to become the baby’s legal guardian in January last year.
“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,” she wrote.
“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,” O’Brien continued in the statement, speaking on behalf of the family.
“Despite this decision and Shayla being in foster care, we as a family were still able to have weekly contact with her and we saw her without fail at every opportunity.
“In August 2015, out of nowhere, we were told by social services that we had to go and see Shayla as soon as possible and say goodbye for the final time as a suitable adoptive family had been found for her. This has been completely devastating for all,” the grandmother added.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 30, 2015
Breitbart London reported last month how Scully-Hicks, who was accused of breaking Elsie’s ribs, leg, and ankle, and fracturing her skull in months of abuse leading up to her death, had referred to his adopted daughter as “a psycho” and “Satan in a babygrow” in text messages, and was heard by neighbours screaming, “Shut up you silly little c***”, on an occasion the child was crying.
A formal investigation has been commissioned after it emerged social services failed to raise any concerns during Elsie’s adoption process, despite social workers and health visitors noting a string of injuries including ‘unexplained’ bruising and a broken leg during 15 visits made to the Scully-Hicks home between January 2015 — when the killer and his husband Craig expressed their desire to become fathers to adoption officials — and Elsie’s death in May.
On Monday, the court heard Elsie was even rushed to hospital after vomiting blood on one occasion, when Scully-Hicks claimed his adopted daughter had “fallen down the stairs”.
In a piece looking at whether “political correctness” played a role in the toddler’s death, newspaper columnist Sarah Vine cited a whistleblower at Elsie’s local child protection services, with 30 years’ social work experience, who suggested that the “Scully-Hickses may not have been vigorously vetted or challenged about Elsie’s injuries because it seemed such an attractive idea to place the child with a gay couple”.