THERE were missed opportunities in the care of a baby girl who was murdered by her adoptive father two weeks after he formally adopted her, a review has found.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 32, passed the rigorous adoption process with flying colours and professionals viewed his care of 18-month-old Elsie through a “positive lens”.

The fitness instructor, who had previously adopted another child, violently shook Elsie and threw her to the floor at their home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on May 25 in 2016.

In the months before that fatal attack, Scully-Hicks had inflicted a catalogue of injuries to Elsie.

One of these was a large bruise to the little girl’s forehead in December 2015 that lasted for eight weeks.

Two social workers and an independent reviewing officer from the Vale of Glamorgan Council saw the bruise during an adoption review at the Scully-Hicks’ home.

They failed to make any note of the bruise and it was not brought to the attention of the adoption court, along with concerns that Elsie was developing a squint.

An extended child practice review found professionals saw Elsie’s injuries in isolation, lacked “professional curiosity” and accepted the innocent explanations given by Scully-Hicks.

Lance Carver, director of social services at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, accepted the findings of the report and apologised for errors in Elsie’s case.

Mr Carver said: “The Vale of Glamorgan Council welcomes the independent Child Practice Review launched after the tragic death of Elsie and is committed to learning lessons from its findings. The review found that the care planning and adoption assessment processes were followed correctly and were robust. As director of social services, I acknowledge unreservedly that there must always be a thorough examination to learn lessons from such a tragic event and I fully accept the recommendations from the review.

“I do not underestimate the impact on those most closely affected and we have thoroughly considered our own processes. As a result of this, a number of actions have already been implemented to strengthen the monitoring arrangements once a child has been placed for adoption. These changes include additional professional oversight over and above normal supervision methods, an enhanced visiting schedule, and ensuring the robust recording and sharing of information.

“The death of a child within an adoptive placement is incredibly rare, but made no less shocking or distressing by its infrequency. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest sympathy to members of Elsie’s birth and adoptive families. Implementing the recommendations of the independent review is a priority for the council and one we take seriously.”