A stay-at-home father who referred to his newly-adopted 18-month-old daughter as "Satan dressed up in baby grow" has been accused of months of abuse before killing her.

Matthew Scully-Hicks is standing trial for the murder of his adopted daughter Elsie, at Cardiff Crown Court, with prosecutors saying he assaulted and abused her before her death.

The 31-year-old is accused of "violently shaking" Elsie causing her "catastrophic head injuries" on 25 May 2016 just two weeks after they formally completed the adoption process.

He and his husband, Craig Scully-Hicks, adopted Elsie in September 2015 when she was 10 months old after the child had been placed in the care of Vale of Glamorgan Council just days after being born.

"Within two weeks of Elsie's formal adoption by the couple, we allege that the defendant had inflicted fatal injuries upon her," prosecutor Paul Lewis QC said according to the BBC.

The crown alleges that Scully-Hicks, who denies murder, had beaten the child over a number of months before the violence culminated in her death.

"The injuries that caused her death were inflicted upon her by the defendant shortly before he called emergency services that day," said Lewis.

"His attack upon her that day was not the first time he had employed violence towards Elsie, nor was it the first time he had caused her serious injury.

"His actions on the late afternoon of 25 May were the tragic culmination of a course of violent 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."

Elsie died at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, after a decision was taken to switch off her ventilator four days after she suffered traumatic head injuries.

The court heard how Scully-Hicks called the ambulance service to report that Elsie was unresponsive before paramedics attended and found was not breathing, with no signs of cardiac output.

Jurors heard how Elsie had suffered haemorrhages to her brain and behind her eyes with experts identifying that she had previously suffered other bleeds to her brain.

A post-mortem examination discovered Elsie had also suffered several broken ribs, a fractured left femur and a fractured skull, reported the Daily Mail.

Scully-Hicks allegedly carried out the attacks while his husband worked full time as a company director and jurors heard about other times Elsie had visited hospital in the lead-up to her death.

In November 2015 she fractured her ankle while in the care of the defendant then in December she sustained a bruise to her forehead.

In January, Elsie suffered another bruise on her head and in March she was taken to hospital by ambulance after Scully-Hicks said she had fallen down the stairs in their home.

After police examined electronic devices owned by Scully-Hicks they found numerous messages of him telling friends of the hardships Elsie was causing.

He said that he was "going through hell" on one occasion and described Elsie as "Satan dressed up in a baby grow."

The trial continues.