Child murderer Ben Butler threatened to throw neighbour off balcony
Published 21/06/2016 | 12:03
Ben Butler threatened to throw Jennie Gray off a balcony as their drunken rows spilled out into public, according to one of their neighbours.
During the trial, the couple had strenuously denied having a violent and volatile relationship, and dismissed Butler's stream of abusive text messages in the months before their six-year-old daughter died.
But speaking as Butler was convicted of killing the girl, their neighbour Marion Cook revealed that she had witnessed the domestic abuse on several occasions.
Ms Cook, who lived in Westover Close, Sutton, told ITV News London: "They used to go out, get drunk, come back on their deck, silly hours of the morning, and he would start on Jennie.
"One time he threatened to chuck her off the balcony. He was a very violent man. They shouldn't have been together."
When she first met Butler she thought he was a "top lad" and she would often go to his flat a few doors away, she said.
Two days before Ellie died, Ms Cook was invited to a get-together in the house. She said: "You'd have think the children would have got up with all the noise because they had like a little party, but I didn't see no children, only a little doggy in the kitchen."
On the afternoon of October 28 2013, Ms Cook watched Ellie being stretchered to a waiting ambulance as medics desperately tried to save her life.
Earlier that day, she had seen Butler walking the dog and disposing of evidence in bins on the estate.
While the family were in hospital, she looked after their Jack Russell puppy Minnie for a couple of days.
When Gray came to pick up the dog, Ms Cook asked her what happened, and she burst into tears as she told her: "I don't know, Ellie just fell off the bed and hit her head."
After Butler was bailed, Butler told Ms Cook: "I haven't done nothing, she fell."
On his conviction, the neighbour said: "I'd like to see them chuck the key away. You can't do that to a little girl and get away with it. If it weren't for him, little Ellie would be alive now."