Mother of girls killed by father in mental health appeal

A mother whose two daughters were killed by their father is campaigning to have spouses involved in the treatment of mentally ill people in the hope of preventing a repeat of the horror which befell her family.

In Nov 2010, John Butler killed his daughters, Ella, 2, and Zoe, 6, at the family home in Ballycotton, Co Cork. A short time later he died after dousing his car in petrol and driving it into a ditch.

The children’s mother, Una Butler, has made a submission to an expert group reviewing the Mental Health Act 2001 in an effort to have partners and spouses involved in the treatment of the mentally ill.

“If I can save just one life by trying to get the Mental Health Act 2001 amended to involve spouses/partners in the treatment and mandatory assessment to a household, if children are living under the same roof, then that can only be a good thing,” she said.

“I’m doing this for Zoe and Ella because I believe that this awful tragedy could have been prevented had I been involved in my husband’s treatment.”

She said the only reason her daughters are dead is because John suffered with his mental health.

“That’s the bottom line. He never harmed them and he never physically harmed me. I never for one moment thought that Ella or Zoe were at risk from their father.”

Since 2000, 38 children between 14-weeks-old and 16-years-old have been killed by parents in this country. The killings were committed by 15 fathers and 12 mothers.

“As we continue to sweep these tragic acts away into a corner, they continue to occur in this country at a rate of about two a year.”

Ms Butler said more research was needed to prevent tragedies and it’s a “disgrace” it isn’t happening.

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