‘Evil’ dad gets life for killing 6-year-old Ellie Butler

“Evil” father Ben Butler has been jailed for life with a minimum term of at least 23 years for killing his six-year-old daughter in a fit of rage, 11 months after winning her back in a high-profile custody battle.

Butler, 36, inflicted horrific head injuries on Ellie while looking after her and her younger sibling in October 2013.

He was found guilty of murder and child cruelty following a trial at the Old Bailey.

His partner, Jennie Gray, 36, was convicted of child cruelty, having already admitted perverting the course of justice.

The couple angrily protested their innocence when jurors returned their verdicts on the third day of deliberations.

Gray told them they had made a “big mistake”, while Butler shouted angrily that he would “fight forever” and appeal against their decision.

Butler was sentenced to five years for child cruelty, to run concurrently, and Gray was jailed for 42 months.

Jailing Butler, Mr Justice Wilkie told him: “You are a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, violent, and domineering man who, I am satisfied, regarded your children and your partner as trophies, having no role other than to fit in with your infantile and sentimentalised fantasy of family life with you as the patriarch whose every whim was to be responded to appropriately.”

He told a sobbing Gray that she may have been “exceptionally naive and stupid” to believe Butler and take part in the cover-up.

The trial heard that Butler battered his daughter to death at the family home in south London, in a momentary but volcanic loss of temper.

He put off dialling 999 for two hours and instead summoned Gray back from work in the City of London.

The pair concocted an elaborate plot to destroy evidence and stage the scene of an accidental fall before alerting the ambulance service.

Former EastEnders actress Gray screamed and shouted at the operator and carried out CPR, despite knowing her daughter was dead.

The couple even involved Ellie’s younger sibling by sending the child into her room on the pretext of fetching her for cake, jurors were told.

The child can be heard on the 999 call saying Ellie “won’t wake up”.

The killing came months after the children were returned to their parents following accusations that Butler violently shook Ellie when she was seven weeks old.

Butler had been found guilty of assaulting Ellie in 2007 but this was quashed on appeal.

In November 2012, he was “exonerated” by a family court judge who declared a “happy ending” as she handed Ellie and her sibling back.


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