Fitness instructor accused of adopted baby daughter's murder frequently shouted at her to 'shut up', court hears

A fitness instructor accused of murdering his adopted daughter repeatedly shouted “shut up” at her, neighbours have told a court.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, is accused of inflicting a catalogue of serious injuries on Elsie Scully-Hicks before her death in May 2016.

He had formally adopted the 18-month-old with husband Craig Scully-Hicks, 36, an account manager, just two weeks earlier.

​Scully-Hicks, from Delabole, Cornwall, denies murdering Elsie at the couple’s four-bedroom home in Llandaff, Cardiff, on 29 May.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that the couple had moved to the property from a house in Wellright Road in Fairwater, Cardiff, in April.

Susan Bevan, who lived next door to the couple in Wellright Road, told the jury: “I would hear her (Elsie) crying.

“On one occasion he was frustrated, saying ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up’. It would be ‘Shut the f*** up’ sometimes.

“It appeared to be exasperated, frustrated – as you would if a baby had been crying a lot.”

Mrs Bevan said she referred to Scully-Hicks as “the one who stayed at home” and his husband as “the one who went to work”.

The court previously heard that Scully-Hicks stopped working full-time to care for Elsie, while his husband worked.

“I do remember one occasion where the baby was crying a lot and, from a mother’s point of view, it sounded like a proper cry,” she said.

“It was proper, proper crying. Matt got really, really exasperated with the baby.

“He said ‘Shut up, shut up, shut the f*** up’. I remember thinking ‘That sounds like a colicky pain, I don’t think he realises the baby is in pain’.

“That time really stuck in my mind.”

She confirmed that she never heard the sound of a child being hit, or screaming out, and had “no reason” to be worried about Elsie.

Mrs Bevan’s son, James, who moved back home in December 2015, said he could hear the house next door through his bedroom wall.

“I heard a contained tantrum – it was like ‘argh’,” he said. “It was an adult’s voice, followed by the baby crying.

“As the baby was still crying I would hear the door slam.”

Mr Bevan said he also heard Scully-Hicks with Elsie between February and April in 2016.

“The baby was crying,” he said. “I heard the one who stayed at home shout ‘Shut up, you little f** brat’.

“The next time, the baby started crying. I heard the one who stayed at home shout ‘Shut up, you silly little c***’.

“Eventually the baby stopped crying but then there was a pause and loud music started coming from the house next door.

“It played for the duration of a song and it stopped, by which time the baby had started crying again.

“The one who stayed at home repeatedly said ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up’ over and over again.”

Mr Bevan said he heard similar incidents “maybe once a week” but only the two stuck in his mind.

Elsie, who was removed from her natural mother within days of her birth in November 2014, went to live with the Scully-Hicks in September 2015.

She fractured her right leg in November that year and suffered bruises to her head in December and January 2016.

On 10 March, she was taken to the University Hospital of Wales after falling down the stairs.

A 27-minute-long 999 call from Scully-Hicks to Wales Ambulance Service after the fall was played to the jury.

He was heard saying “Elsie, Elsie, come on, stay awake, stay awake, stay awake, babe, come on” while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Scully-Hicks claimed Elsie had fallen down the stairs after a wooden stair gate accidentally opened when she pulled herself up on it.

The court has been told that Elsie vomited three times after the fall and did not qualify for a CT scan in Wales.

Scully-Hicks called 999 at about 6.20pm on 25 May, reporting that he had found Elsie unresponsive.

Tests showed Elsie had evidence of both recent and older bleeding in her brain, and haemorrhages in front of her eyes.

A post-mortem examination revealed that she had suffered several broken ribs, a fractured left femur and a fractured skull.

She died at the hospital in the early hours of 29 May.

Following her death, police found messages allegedly sent by Scully-Hicks describing Elsie as “Satan dressed up in a Babygro”.


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Dog owners remove their pets' collars in tribute to Border Terrier who died in tragic accident

Dog owners are paying their respects to a five-month-old Border Terrier who died in a tragic accident after his collar got trapped in a door handle.

Rocco’s sudden death left his owner, Adriam James, heartbroken and he is now warning other dog owners against the dangers of collars.

Sharing the news on the Border Terriers Owners Facebook group, which has more than 16,000 members, James wrote: “RIP my little Rocco I’m totally heartbroken you had to die in such a horrible way and only five months old, GUTTED.”

When fellow border terrier owners asked James how Rocco had passed away at such a young age, he replied:

“My poor boy caught his collar on a kitchen door handle! He must have been jumping up to get on the wor top and fell down catching the collar my poor mum found him hanging on the door.”

James’ story has prompted a flurry of support from fellow group members and dog owners, who have been sharing their support on social media.

Rocco’s accidental death has also inspired many people to remove their pet’s collars in his memory and share photos of their collar-less creatures on Instagram under the hashtag #collaroff, which currently has 168 posts.

“Tonight we have taken the collar off in memory of Rocco,” writes one user, alongside a snap of their Border Terrier, Buddy.

“Heard the terribly sad story today about the gorgeous border terrier pup Rocco. He lost his life after getting his collar caught on a kitchen door handle whilst his owner was at work. Love and thoughts are with Rocco’s family. RIP Rocco,” added another, whose pug was pictured collar-less.

A Just Giving page has even been set up in Rocco’s name, created by an admin of the Border Terrier Owners group, Heidi Batey.

All of the funds raised will be donated to Border Terrier Welfare, a registered charity which helps finds new homes for Border Terriers who have been abandoned.

So far, they have raised £5,692.60 thanks to 466 supporters. Their original target was just £250.

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SNP calls for monarchy funding cuts to increase budget for 'wider public good'

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has backed a radical plan to stop state funding for the Royal Family, arguing that the money should be spent on “the wider public good”.

Delegates at the party’s autumn conference in Glasgow voted overwhelmingly for a motion calling for the repeal of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.

The party argued that ordinary people were being “shafted by a rich elite” under the current system and the money would be better spent on social care.

The SNP’s political education convener Julie Hepburn said the endowment was “basically the equivalent of the Royal Family winning the Lottery every single year”.

“No need for the Queen to play Euromillions,” she said. “With the Sovereign Grant, Her Majesty is purring all the way to the bank.”

The Sovereign Grant Act pays the royal household a proportion of profits from the Crown Estate, which has some £272m worth of assets in Scotland.

The Royal Family has seen its income increase substantially since the introduction of the Act, rising from £31m in 2012/13 to more than £76m this year.

“This is our money — money that could otherwise be spent on the public good,” Ms Hepburn said. “Under the Sovereign Grant system there is no accountability for the size of the payments that go to the royal household or any limitations to ensure proportionality.

“If profits double, the payments double. At a time when the UK Government is insisting we all tighten our belts – particularly the most vulnerable – because there is no money, there can be no moral justification for giving just one family over £70m. That could pay for a lot of mobility cars.”

She added: “We need to keep taking a step back, look up and look out and see how ordinary people are being shafted by a rich elite and how the odds are always stacked in favour of the most privileged in our society.

“The Sovereign Grant is the epitome of that privilege and a symbol of everything that is rotten at the core of the UK’s political system.”

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central said the Crown Estate had amassed profits of £328m from wind farms, money which should be invested in communities instead.

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on the management of the Crown Estate in January, after it was announced control over the assets would be devolved to Holyrood.

The Sovereign Grant currently remains in the control of Westminster.

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Liam Gallagher is the most sensible voice on Brexit

Ever outspoken on everything, Liam Gallagher has just revealed his thoughts on Brexit and was beautifully matter-of-fact as usual. 

In an interview with NME , Gallagher was asked about Brexit to which he responded, unsurprisingly, with no restraint. 

“No thoughts on it, man. I love Europe”, he said. “I guess the borders have got to be tightened but all that stuff about going ‘this is my country’, I don’t get that. We all live under one sky. I certainly don’t sit there and go ‘this is my f***in’ England, stay out’, but I think we should definitely keep an eye on who’s coming in and out of the country”.

“That just makes common sense because you don’t want a load of loony c*** coming in. But good people should be allowed to move and groove wherever they want”. 

Past Europe, Gallagher spoke up about US president Donald Trump, and his own role in the threatening current state of affairs.

““He’s a d***. They’re all d***,” he established. “Kim Jong f***in’ whatever he’s called, they’re all off their f***in’ tits. I’m here to take people away from all that. You certainly ain’t gonna get me stomping around like Bono.”

Featuring a more mature sound and a fresh crop of songwriting credits for the artist, Liam Gallagher’s new solo album As You Were is out now. 

Read our interview with him here

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Fox paid $400m for the World Cup and now the USA aren't in it

It was a bad, bad night for the United States of America – as President Donald Trump would probably have put it.

For the first time since 1986 the country’s national men’s side failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Heading into their final qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night, the USA simply had to avoid losing or else their fate would be out of their hands.

But it was not to be as Bruce Arena’s men succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their Caribbean opponents.

This would have been fine if both Panama and Honduras had lost too, but unfortunately the former took down Costa Rica while the latter beat Mexico.

For some certain individuals in America, though, the ignominy of missing out on football’s central showpiece will be considerably greater than for others.

Indeed, Murdoch-owned broadcaster Fox, whose news arm have courted controversy after a string of sexual harassment cases, paid a staggering $400m for the rights to broadcast the 2018 World Cup.

Except the USA won’t be a part of it.


Fox’s deal stretches to the 2022 World in Qatar so it might not all be in vain but they’ll have to wait another four years until they find out whether it’s money well spent.

Many will enjoy the schadenfreude at play here as the network were awarded the 2026 World Cup TV rights without even having to bid for them – a gift from Fifa after the broadcast company bent over backwards to help move the 2022 World Cup to the winter despite the bid guidelines clearly stating it would be a summer tournament. 

Rival broadcasters couldn’t get those 2026 rights which will now hand Fox a huge payday but the broadcaster will nonetheless take a hit next summer as the USMNT stays at home.

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Gauri Lankesh: Uncompromising journalist who spoke truth to power

Under the weight of the pressures of political intimidation and accusations of being “anti-national”, Gauri Lankesh refused to bend. A fearless and uncompromising journalist, Lankesh –  who was gunned down outside her Bangalore home on 5 September – was at the helm of Indian tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike, one of the few newspapers in the country to sport a female publisher’s name on its masthead. 

For Lankesh, the newspaper was a conduit for speaking truth to power at a time when many other news outlets in India felt condemned to self-censorship after the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 saw a rising tide of Hindu nationalist sentiments. The outspoken writer was proud to call herself an activist and a fierce critic of Modi’s government, nationalist organisations and India’s deeply rooted caste system.

If the motive behind her murder was to silence her, news of Lankesh’s death seems only to have amplified her voice around the world. Her death sparked outrage across the country, with as many as 15,000 people, including writers, journalists and academics, joining a protest condemning her murder. Many held placards reading “I am Gauri”, while others spoke about the need to protect free speech. 

More than a month after the murder, the perpetrators have not been found. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged police in Bangalore to investigate “whether journalism was a motive” in Lankesh’s murder. The organisation ranks India as a country with a poor record of safeguarding media and said in its statement: “India needs to address the problem of impunity in journalist murders an ensure the press can work freely.” The CPJ estimates as many as 27 journalists have been murdered in relation to their work since 1992. 

​Lankesh was born in 1962 to a prominent family in the Karnataka state. Her father, P Lankesh, was a celebrated writer who launched the Lankesh Patrike paper as a daring tabloid that defied convention in 1980. He shared – and in large part inspired – his daughter’s strong anti-caste sentiments and critical view of religion. 

As the eldest child of three siblings, Lankesh inherited the reins of the family newspaper when he died in 2000, maintaining the tabloid’s punchy editorials and bold journalism. Five years later, however, disagreement within the family about how the newspaper should be run led to a falling out between Lankesh and her brother Indrajit. The feud prompted the journalist to launch a separate tabloid under her own name, the Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

​Lankesh was posthumously awarded a prestigious global award for her achievements – the Anna Politkovskaya Award, created in memory of the Russian reporter and political activist who was murdered in 2006. The Kannada journalist shared the award Reach All Women in War award with Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani activist who faced death threats after speaking out against the Taliban. 

“This award is a morale booster for people who want to write, and fight,” Lankesh’s sister, Kavitha, an award-winning filmmaker told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It honours what Gauri stood for – that you cannot silence me.”

​The award committee said in a statement it wanted to celebrate Lankesh “and her fearless journalism as a strong critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, campaigner for women’s rights, fiercely opposed to the caste system, and campaigner for the rights of Dalits. A senior Indian journalist and activist, Gauri, just like Anna Politkovskaya before her, was shot dead outside her home … in order to silence her voice and her critical reporting and activism.”

Last year Lankesh told Indian website Newslaundry that the “rabid hate” directed towards her online made her fear for the state of freedom of expression in India. She called on fellow journalists to stand up to threats from nationalist organisations. 

In an editorial celebrating the 10th anniversary of her newspaper, Lankesh wrote: “When the world and hence the reality is divided along the class, caste and gender lines, objective journalism could become another way of self-deception. When truth is partisan, the journalists also need to take sides. My journalism is with a purpose line, the journalism pursued during the freedom movement by the leaders of the National Movement. No journalist can become a real journalist in this era of corporate capitalism and ascendent right-wing forces, unless he becomes an activist journalist – at least in the mindset.”

In her final editorial, Lankesh offered timeless advice to journalists working in an age of fake news and “alternative facts”. “Today, the mainstream media accepts the data given by the government … as gospel truth, as if the government’s claims cannot be challenged or questioned,” Lankesh wrote in a translated copy of the piece.

She warned of how fake news stories could be used as “weapons”, referring to a false report about the Karnataka government. “What is most shocking and sad is that people accepted it as truth without thinking – with their eyes and ears closed and brains shut off. I want to salute all those who expose fake news,” Lankesh wrote in her final paragraph. “I wish there were more of them.”

Lankesh leaves behind her two siblings, Kavitha and Indrajit, as well as her mother, Indira, who told The Times of India she was “proud of Gauri in many ways”, calling her a “braveheart who loved to speak the truth”.

​The publisher was married to fellow journalist Chidanand Rajghatta in the 1980s, but the marriage ended in divorce after five years, with the pair maintaining a close friendship up until Lankesh’s final days. The writer never remarried, dedicating herself to her work and the young activists that she considered her “adopted children”. 

Rajghatta, an Indian-born columnist based in Washington DC, penned a poignant tribute to Lankesh in the wake of her death, describing the writer as “feisty” and “rebellious”, but graceful. “One phrase keeps repeating and resonating in my mind: amazing grace,” Rajghatta wrote. “Forget all other labels: leftist, radical, anti-Hindutva, secular, etc. For me, there is just this: My friend, my first love, she was the epitome of amazing grace.”

Gauri Lankesh, journalist and activist, born 29 January 1962, died 5 September 2017

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Australian woman tackles shark in ocean swimming pool then throws it into sea with bare hands

An Australian estate agent has been nicknamed the “shark wrangler” after she heroically rescued one of the creatures from an ocean pool and threw it back into the sea. 

Melissa Hatheier stumbled across the bronze whaler while swimming at the Oak Park pool in Cronulla, a beachside suburb to the south of Sydney

Footage filmed by her daughter shows the moment she wrestled the shark with her bare hands, before throwing it over the side of the pool and back into the ocean. 

Posted to Cronulla real estate’s Facebook page, it has garnered thousands of views.

Ms Hatheier told the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader that she was surprised by the attention.

“I was just trying to catch a little shark,” she said. “If it had big teeth I wouldn’t have done it.”

The shark was thought to be an infant and measured approximately 1m in length. 

Ms Hatheier said she felt sorry for the creature when she saw it was getting stressed and knocking its head on the rocks that line the pool.

“I herded the shark into the shallows and then I just sort of jumped on him and put my knees on his fins,” she told the paper. “I then grabbed him around the neck so he couldn’t swing around and bite me.

“He wasn’t that heavy but his skin was very rough, like sandpaper. I just threw him over the edge of the pool into the water and watched him swim away.”

Bronze whaler sharks can be aggressive when they are hungry, and place tenth in the number of unprovoked attacks on humans. 

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Man dies after dropping gun and accidentally shooting himself reaching to comfort crying baby

Police say a Pennsylvania man fatally shot himself when he tried to catch a gun that fell from his holster while he was trying to calm his crying child in the back seat of a car.

Berwick police say 28-year-old Kenneth Morris reached through the car’s rear driver’s side door to comfort his son when the .357-caliber gun fell from Morris’ shoulder holster.

When Morris tried to grab the falling weapon, he accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting himself in the stomach.

Police say surveillance video captured the shooting, which happened on Tuesday afternoon in a driveway of a home. Morris was from the Nescopeck area.

He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.


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Barcelona 'ready to buy' Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho once transfer window re-opens in January

Barcelona are ready to bid for Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho again once the transfer window re-opens in January, according to the club’s chief executive.

Liverpool rejected three offers worth up to £114m from Barcelona for Coutinho, who also handed in a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to Catalonia.

The Merseyside club stood firm, turning down the Brazilian’s request and repeatedly insisting that he would not be sold at any price.

Coutinho has since been reintegrated into Jürgen Klopp’s squad and has shown no sign of frustration at not being allowed to leave Anfield. 

However, Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau has said that the club is ready to resume their chase of the 25-year-old in three months’ time, though players may need to be leave the Nou Camp first.

“We are ready to buy Coutinho in the winter market, or any player the technical staff request,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “But it is important to adjust ourselves, so if there are to be arrivals, there must be exits as well.”

Barcelona’s pursuit of Coutinho escalated after Paris Saint-Germain finalised the world-record breaking €222m (£198m) signing of Neymar, activating a release clause in the forward’s contract to take him from the Nou Camp.

The Catalan club ultimately replaced Neymar by completing a €105m (£97m) move for Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele yet still could not persuade Liverpool to part with Coutinho.

“We must forget about the price paid for Neymar last summer,” Grau added, when discussing the Barcelona’s potential moves in the transfer market. “After taxes we received about €188m in income and a direct financial impact on the club’s treasury of €144m.”

After missing out on Coutinho, Barcelona’s sporting director Albert Soler claimed that the club had decided against a move for the player after Liverpool had ultimately demanded €200m (£183m).

Liverpool, however, strongly denied this version of events and insisted that their definitive stance that Coutinho would end the summer transfer window at Anfield had never changed.

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Copenhagen's mayor plans to ban all new diesel cars in city by 2019

Copenhagen’s mayor has announced plans to ban new diesel cars from entering the Danish capital. 

As part of a proposal to improve the city’s air quality, Frank Jensen wants to introduce the ban by 1 January 2019. 

“It’s not a human right to pollute the air for others. That’s why diesel cars must be phased out,” the 56-year-old told Danish newspaper Politiken.

The law would only affect drivers of new diesel cars registered after 2018, but Mr Jensen insisted it would “mean something for the many, many Copenhageners that are affected by respiratory illnesses”. 

But any law change would need to win a majority in the Danish parliament. 

Mr Jensen is also pushing for further law changes, including a limit on wood-burning stoves in the city, speeding up the transition to electric buses, and forcing cruise ships docked at the city’s port to run on electricity instead of diesel. 

Steffen Loft, lead researcher in air pollution at the Copenhagen Institute for Public Health, called the proposal an “important signal” but said it did not go far enough.

“It’s weak. The proposal could be more restrictive of diesel vans. Firstly, you could introduce the restriction earlier than 2019, and you could choose a stricter standard. And there are no restrictions on diesel-powered cars, in addition to the new cars that may be purchased after 2019,” he told the newspaper. 

“It’s not on top of my list for how ambitious it could be. It is still not in line with other metropolitan environmental requirements such as Berlin, Stockholm, Paris and so on. “

Around 80 people die each year in Copenhagen due to air pollution caused locally, according to research. 

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