The Vale of Glamorgan Council Offices in Barry

Vale of Glamorgan social workers are now under scrutiny following the murder conviction and sentencing yesterday of Matthew Scully-Hicks – the gay adoptive father of an 18-month-old baby girl called Elsie.

Child care experts say that in by-gone years the adoption of a baby girl by two homosexual men would have been illegal, but times have changed and such arrangements –  although still not common – are now provided for under the law.

Now-convicted child murderer Matthew Scully-Hicks was appraised as a suitable adoptive parent by the Vale of Glamorgan Council

The murder trial heard that Matthew Scully-Hicks had undergone months of training, assessment and meetings before he and his male “husband”  were allowed to adopt baby Elsie.

Elsie – who was murdered by her adoptive parent Matthew Scully-Hicks whilst in his care

However the adoption –  in September 2015 –  sealed the fate of the little girl who sustained a string of injuries whilst  the “care” of Matthew Scully-Hicks.

  • November 5 2015 – Elsie suffers a leg injury. On November 12 an X-ray shows she has  fractured her leg above her right ankle.
  • December 16 2015 – Elsie suffers a bruise to her head, near her left eye. 5 days later Matthew Scully-Hicks is told by a Health Visitor to get it checked. There’s no evidence he ever did so.
  • January 18 2016 – Elsie suffers another bruise to her head.
  • March 10 2016 – Elsie is taken to hospital after allegedly “falling down the stairs”.
  • April 26 2016 – Elsie is taken to the GP after developing a squint and on May 6  goes to the  Children’s Clinic at St David’s Hospital but is released back into the care of Matthew Scully-Hicks.
  • May 25, 2016 6.18pm Matthew Scully-Hicks calls 999 reporting Elsie is “unresponsive”. She is taken back to hospital where she is found to have bleeding in her brain and eyes, a fractured skull and fractured ribs. The following day her condition deteriorates and on May 29th her ventilator is switched off.
  • November 6th 2017 Matthew Scully-Hicks is convicted of murder and on November 7th is sentenced to life imprisonment

Before, during  and throughout the whole series of events, social workers and health-care professionals were being consulted and all the required “checks” and “appraisals” were carried out on the male couple and found to be satisfactory.

These included criminal records checks, medical examinations, social services checks and local authority checks. The adoption case  had been reviewed by two social workers and then formally approved by Vale of Glamorgan Adoption in July 2015.

Now, in the wake of 18-month-old Elsie’s murder,  a so-called “Child Practice Review” is to be carried out by  Cardiff and Vale Regional Child Safeguarding Board.

Academics have already expressed doubt as to whether this forthcoming 12 month investigation into the conduct of the case by social services and professionals is likely to come up with any useful recommendations. One law lecturer is quoted as saying that the review “may not find anything to sign post towards better practice”. Another lecturer says “there are no guaranteed risk-free interventions.

Other commentators however take a different view. One lawyer told a PDN source: “In cases like this what emerges is a politically-correct culture in which  people tick the boxes but don’t join the dots. What seems to have been called for in this case was the application of some basic common-sense.”    

The natural family of baby Elsie have told Sky News she would still be alive today if she had not been removed from their care. Elsie had originally been named Shayla O’Brien – but her real parents said they were not informed of their daughter’s death until 8 months after she had been killed by Matthew Scully-Hicks.

Elsie’s natural grandmother, Sian O’Brien, told reporters “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.” Ms O’Brien said that at the time of Elsie’s birth, her real mother – Ms O’Brien’s daughter – “was not in a position to care for Shayla and she was removed from the hospital five days after birth by Social Services”.

Ms O’Brien said “A person who had been deemed by the authorities to be a fit and proper person to bring up my granddaughter was responsible for her death, and they took her from me  – telling me I would be unable to cope.”

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. whatsoccurin says:

    No easy answers but I think if I was managing the case I would explain to social work staff that two men with such a young child may need extra support particularly in the early months-the response would be 1. Thanks boss-we were thinking along the same lines or 2. How dare you discriminate against this single sex couple. I think in politically correct La La Land which dominates Councils and Private Agencies in 2017 the second response may have been the most likely..

    • The Tax payer says:

      Couldn’t agree more. And we see it day in and day out I’m sorry to say. Good trump card to have mind !!!

  2. Penarthal says:

    What kind of a twisted mind thinks it is appropriate to place a baby girl in the care of two male homosexuals? A politically correct one. No doubt there were social workers who were against this but we’re unable to speak up because of being out ranked and bullied by their seniors who wanted to look modern and prejudiced. There was no need for this poor child’s death and heads should roll at the top where the decision was signed off. I am too angry to write any more.

    • Eyes and Ears says:

      too angry and homophobic!!

      • The Tax payer says:

        Eyes and Ears. Please see my above comments. (Trump Card) I work with a few people that play such a card and they do very well out of it as managers are to worried to Confront them about things. By the way that is both male and female staff 👍

    • ice says:

      A quick Google will reveal many a study that conclude same-sex parenting is just as good as different-sex parenting. Your attack on homosexuality is misguided.

    • Penarthian says:

      I agree with your comments 100%

  3. Eyes and Ears says:

    When a child is in the care of social services, they cost that Local Authority money. Once that child is adopted this stopped. Each child in the care system is just a number and each LA want to reduce this number and therefore reduce their costs. The moment the adoption was confirmed and the child has moved somewhere else, it becomes someone else’s problem.
    There were signs that this child was not safe and they were missed. Not only by the LA but also by the murderers husband.
    I also think that the fact the adoptive parents were a gay couple is irrelevant. People will use this as a reason why same sex relationships shouldn’t adopt, but the fact is this was down to one sick individual.
    Social Services placed this baby in the care of people who were supposed to give her life she wouldn’t have had with her birth Mother. There will be a few nervous social workers who will know that they have made mistakes in this case. Be interesting to see the long term sickness level of all involved.

    • whatsoccurin says:

      Agree-that’s what struck me-the “husband” had shared parental responsibility yet took no part in the Court proceedings and was not held to account for not responding to the concerning texts that he received, neither were the neighbours who should have reported what they heard immediately.(will we ever be told how many single sex male couples in the area are fostering or adopting such a young child-very few I would imagine?)

  4. Andrew Worsley says:

    Men cannot have babies only women can so two males should not be able to adopt a baby that’s how mother nature works , the same applies to two females a woman cannot have a baby without a male being involved . Men do not have a maternal instinct , women do , and for that reason are ideally suited. No one makes a male or female choose to live a gay lifestyle but they should not be able to have a baby for the reasons stated.

    • Eyes and Ears says:

      HAHAHA please tell me this is an attempt at trolling

    • Ralph says:

      No one “chooses” to be either gay or straight.
      Your use of the words “gay lifestyle” is a pathetic attempt to hide your homophobia.

  5. Penarthal says:

    Yes, I am angry and so are the family of the mother who would never have sanctioned the adoption by that couple. Get in the real world. A girl growing up needs a mother. No doubt there are examples of exemplary adoptions by single sex couples, but p.c. does not reverse the natural order of life.

    • Louiseholistic says:

      The birth parents of a child waiting to be adopted should have no say whatsoever in who adopts them. They forfeited that right by failing to look after her properly in the first place. And you have to be a really bad birth parent to have a child taken away from you these days.

      • Yes, the birth parents would absolutely not have been given information about where and with whom their child was placed. As for “natural order”, don’t get me started!

    • Dr. Strangeglove says:

      “The natural order of life”? You clearly know very little about biology. Throughout the animal kingdom there are examples of homosexuality as a NATURAL phenomenon occurring in approximately 10% of an animal population.
      Homosexuality is natural. However, I don’t think there are any examples of kangaroos, raccoons or dormice striving to be ‘politically correct’ in accepting homosexuality as normal, so neither should we worry about it. Just accept that it is part of nature, and stop trying to set your own ignorant agenda.

  6. Maggie Reece says:

    The real elephant in the room, was the very poor parenting skills shown by BOTH men.
    But social services were too afraid to raise the question for fear of being labeled homophobic.
    Same situation as in the Rotherham Taxi abuse case.
    There is good reason why women make better mothers.

    • Eyes and Ears says:

      “There is good reason why women make better mothers.” Is this because they are Women?

      I don’t believe Social Services were too afraid, I think that between them they missed the signs of abuse. The system is all wrong and because of that, the pressures on everyone involved means things are missed.

      Box ticking is deemed more important these days.

    • Dr. Strangeglove says:

      Maggie Reece, you assume that women make better mothers. Does this mean men make better fathers? Are you suggesting that a woman is a better parent than a man?
      Clearly, it is a ridiculous, uninformed point of view. There are plenty of bad mothers and plenty of good fathers, and both benefit from parenting skills which are ACQUIRED – not innate. We learn parenting skills from our parents and parent figures, not from some mysterious ‘instinct’. Many animals do exactly the same, which is why some families pass on negative traits and some pass on positive behaviour. We copy what we see when we are children and usually pass these traits to our own children.

  7. CoexistinPenarth says:

    Can’t believe the homophobic comments here! We call ourselves a civilised and modern society! Grow up everybody! Plenty of single mothers abuse children , plenty of same sex partners neglect and damage their children. People are people and sadly this little girl was placed in a home where her fathers could not cope and did this awful thing. This is nothing to do with their sexuality and if you think it is then maybe you should look at the history of Amy Howsan, Ryan Hawkins and Amy and Owen Philcox.

  8. Nincompoop says:

    What a lot of bigoted opinions we have! Any child placed for adoption is not placed with with same sex couples to be “politically correct” . Social Workers and all the other professionals involved do not place a child with anyone on a whim. It’s a lengthy and meticulous process in which a prospective parent is carefully matched.

    Similarly when a child is placed in care, a great deal of consideration would be given as to whether any other family members would be suitable- clearly the court decided the maternal grandmother was not suitable for reasons we do not know about.

    It’s very easy to point the finger of blame, ultimately the birth mother was unable to look after this baby. All the assessments in the world will never sadly never be able to detect a person intent on harming a baby.

    By the way, Maggie Reece, are you able to share some of the “ good reason” a woman makes a better mother?
    Some of the most high profile cases regarding children being “given up” to paedophiles has been by women!

  9. Amanda C says:

    This is the first case I have ever heard of about a child being killed by a homosexual man. What about all the cases of child neglect and murder committed by heterosexual couples like Baby P. How quick some people are to judge and some of the above clearly Homophobic comments are really quite sickening. The sexuality of a parent has got NOTHING to do with parenting skills and what about parents who have successfully brought up their own children and have been brave enough to admit their homosexuality later in life. Anyone with any wisdom or experience in life knows that life is” shades of grey” and no human being alive can be conveniently ‘ pidgeon-holed’. The minute people start doing that we are leaning towards an extremely dangerous society.

  10. Peter Petherick says:

    In this country it`s my right to disagree or to agree that being homosexual is fine ….. The trouble is we are not allowed to disagree … we have to keep our opinions to ourselves, otherwise we are pilloried ……. Where is freedom of speech going. Liberal used to mean tolerance, disagree with a liberal today and you are a bigot.

    • Dr. Strangeglove says:

      Your opinions are really rather unimportant. Maybe you are not homosexual, but you cannot dictate what is right and natural for others.
      If you base your opinions on fact, backed by hard evidence, then they might be relevant. As it is, tolerance doesn’t mean others should accept your views when you are misinformed, yet you show a remarkable intolerance in dismissing views you do not share, despite your protest.
      I would suggest a bit of research and a rethink. You are not disagreeing with a liberal so much as going against what we know of human nature. Maybe you believe you have a right to be wrong, but we can all be grateful that your views are not widely accepted.

      • Peter Petherick says:

        What .. keep my opinions to myself …… you prove my point .. My opinions are worthless but you know all.
        I`m not dismissing anything, you just jumped all over me for expressing an opinion …. I`m not Homosexual …. nor am I Homophobic …. I couldn`t care less what adult people do with each other … Live and let live I say …. Do I have the right to say that ….. you want to dictate what I have the right to say. I`m liberal minded not an Extreme liberal, cross the line and you become what you become .

      • Dr. Strangeglove says:

        Your opinions are worthless because they are not grounded in fact. You might as well claim that you believe in leprechauns, but it doesn’t mean your opinion is valid or significant.
        I dismissed your opinion because it really doesn’t matter what you think. You can believe whatever you want, right or wrong, but if you choose to express an opinion that is nonsense, and not based on reality, and refuse to acknowledge that it based on your prejudice, rather than on hard evidence and fact, then I have the right to call you a bigot.
        What does it take to get through to you that your views are based on incorrect information, and that it is you that needs to adjust, not the rest of the world?

      • Hamish Munnypenny says:

        It would help if you examined your opinions occasionally instead of letting them gather dust in the recesses of your mind.

  11. whatsoccurin says:

    Great comments, I am sure mirrored in many households. In my time in social work the aim was to keep families together no matter how chaotic they were-nowadays the emphasis is on “rescuing” children from families who could not give them an acceptable lifestyle.I think having done this it is beholden on the Authorities to ensure that the placement is safe and suitable.I do not think it is a question of “pointing the finger of blame”!, it is looking at ways of improving things. What does stand out is that in this couple one carer was essentially functioning a “single parent” and in addition to this there were a number of incidents that in the “old days” would have triggered “N.A.I Procedures”, not just taken the man’s word. I would maintain that the fact it it is a single sex male couple is relevant and playing the “homophobia” card is not helpful, but all respect to the views here.

  12. Mark Foster says:

    Amazing what u can achieve in destroying a people and its culture by setting out to manipulate the media for 70 years. Bring on the Book of Revelation, I say.

    • Big Davey says:

      What, a made up book, made up by someone who believes in a spooky super natural being that has choses never to show himself even though he is supposedly omnipient and needs protection through blasphemy laws.

      Yes bring him on to tell us why he created homosexuals.

      If he created everything thing we see then you need to accept he created gays as well.

      • Hamish Munnypenny says:

        It’s a big mistake trying to reason with an unreasoning mind. He’s lost in a mist of prejudice, passing on the myths crammed into his mind years ago.

    • Danny Oakentrode says:

      Never mind manipulating the media for 70 years, the so-called ‘holy’ books, written by fools, tyrants and charlatans, have used religions as a way of controlling free thought for thousands of years. Mark Foster is just a dupe who has fallen for the con.

  13. Mark Foster says:

    Alternatively, what we need is a great flood to wash all these people away once and for all so we can start again, like in Mesopotamia. Forget all this descended from Apes over millions of years nonsense.

    • Bart Henderson-Brake says:

      Yes, and Peter Rabbit and Goldilocks skipped down the lane to their gingerbread cottages.

  14. Peter Petherick says:

    I`m past my allotted three score and ten …… I`m an atheist, in my opinion no good has ever come from religions …. I can`t think of any, nothing but misery and control for many centuries. That’s my opinion 
    I used to drink and I used to gamble ….. In my early years I learnt that no good ever came from drinking nor from gambling …. peoples lives, even in these Enlightened times are being ruined because of drink …. No one has ever driven a car better … become better looking … solved their debt problems treated their wives and children better …….. Nothing has ever been improved by drinking … Gambling the same. 
    Do I have the right to say that I disagree with excessive drinking ….. religion … gambling …… You are right my opinions,  are worthless the same as yours.
    Extremes of anything are not a good thing … say something today that is not passed as political correctness and you are told to sit down a shut up you bigot.
    DS .. Have the last word …like mine, they mean not a thing.

Comments are closed.