Thursday 8 December 2016

The key figures in the tragic shocking case of Ellie Butler murdered by her father

Published 21/06/2016 | 13:36

Undated family handout photo of six-year-old Ellie Butler with her mother Jennie Gray. Ben Butler has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering his six-year-old daughter Ellie in 2013, 11 months after winning a high-profile custody battle
Undated family handout photo of six-year-old Ellie Butler with her mother Jennie Gray. Ben Butler has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering his six-year-old daughter Ellie in 2013, 11 months after winning a high-profile custody battle

Ben Butler has been found guilty of the murder of his six-year-old daughter Ellie after a trial at the Old Bailey. The little girl's mother, Jennie Gray, has been convicted of child cruelty.

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These are the key figures in the tragic case:

 

ELLIE BUTLER

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Ellie seemed a happy, lively little girl, despite the difficulties she faced in her short life.

She was born on December 30 2006, having been conceived shortly after Ben Butler and Jennie Gray began a "casual" relationship.

Against the odds, she made a full recovery after Butler was accused of violently shaking her in 2007.

Having been taken into care, she went to live with her maternal grandparents, Linda and Neal Gray.

In 2012, she moved back in with her parents and younger sibling in Westover Close, Sutton, south London, and was enrolled in a new school closer to home.

According to neighbours, the Peppa Pig fan was always well turned out. Her bedroom was decked out in pink, matching most of her clothes.

Jurors were shown home videos of the six-year-old dressing up as a Disney princess, bouncing around on a space hopper, playing football in her Everton socks and petting Minnie, the Jack Russell puppy.

Gray told jurors that, like her, Ellie had an artistic flair and proudly showed off a family portrait her daughter had drawn months before her death.

 

JENNIE GRAY

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Accomplished liar Gray was a graduate of the famous Brit School in Croydon which produced the likes of Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Adele.

As a teenager, she had minor roles in EastEnders, The Bill and Silent Witness before carving out a career as a graphic designer.

She gave the performance of her life as she acted out the horror of finding her daughter collapsed in her bedroom in a shocking 999 call.

It demonstrated just how far Gray was prepared to go to protect her man, even at the expense of her children.

Having had a turbulent relationship with her parents, Gray had an ill-fated marriage with Brazilian Carlos De Lima and lived in Brighton, East Sussex, before meeting Butler in a bar in Sutton in 2006.

The couple became closer through their long-running legal fight for Ellie and her sibling.

In those years, the financial and emotional burden took its toll on Gray's health and she frequently turned to alcohol, jurors heard.

In 2011, the 36-year-old, who described herself as a Christian, was convicted of a £10,000 benefit fraud while working in Canary Wharf. She was ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid work.

Despite eventually achieving her "dream" of living together as a family, the evidence showed that Butler was abusing her, although she continued to deny it.

 

BEN BUTLER

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Foul-mouthed Everton football fan Butler was unable to control his "volcanic" temper - even in front of jurors.

Rejected by his biological father, he was brought up in Cambridgeshire by his mother and stepfather who, he said, "rowed a lot".

After they divorced, Butler, who had one brother, moved back to London at the age of 13.

He had a succession of unskilled jobs as a car salesman and removal man as well as several brushes with the law.

In July 2001, he was jailed for three years at Croydon Crown Court for an attempted robbery and intimidating witnesses.

He had a string of convictions for assault between 2004 and 2010, including two on his ex-girlfriend Hannah Hillman, who said he was "pure evil".

He had confessed to a psychologist that he had "hoped that situations might present themselves where he could engage in violence" as it would "improve his mood".

After being cleared on appeal of shaking his baby daughter, Butler claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mrs Justice Hogg was "impressed", describing him as "reflective" and "thoughtful" as she handed Ellie back.

But as the reality of family life dawned on him, the court heard that Butler felt trapped and eventually boiled over.

Despite the evidence, he cast himself as a victim of a miscarriage of justice not once, but twice.

 

MRS JUSTICE HOGG

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Dame Mary Claire Hogg, 69, is the daughter of of Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone, and his wife, Mary Evelyn Martin.

Her brother is Douglas Hogg, 3rd Viscount Hailsham, a former Tory Cabinet minister and barrister.

Educated at the well-to-do St Paul's Girls' School, she became a QC in 1989 and was appointed a High Court judge in 1995 where she sat in the Family Division.

The mother of two grown-up children is married to financial consultant and unsuccessful Tory candidate Eric Koops.

In 2012, she awarded custody of Ellie Butler and her sibling back to their parents, despite concern from social services, police and maternal grandparents.

She said at the time: "It is seldom that I see a 'happy end' in public law proceedings. It is a joy for me to oversee the return of a child to her parents."

Mrs Justice Hogg retired a week before Ben Butler's criminal trial began.

 

ELLIE'S YOUNGER SIBLING

Another young child was at home when Ellie died, but a court order bans identification to protect the child from further harm.

Ellie's younger sibling was secretly born in Worthing, on the West Sussex coast. When social services found out, Butler denied he was the father in a failed attempt to stop the child being taken into care.

The siblings did not know of each other's existence until Mrs Justice Hogg ruled they be reunited with their parents in November 2012.

Gray described how the pair were introduced to each other on a carefully organised bowling trip and became firm playmates and friends.

The younger child was present when Ellie was killed and was interviewed by specialist officers, although the video evidence was not shown to the jury.

The court heard that the child was set up to find Ellie's body as part of Butler and Gray's elaborate cover-up.

As the couple screamed and shouted at the 999 operator, a small voice was heard saying: "I tried to wake her up but she didn't wake up."

The child is now in the care of another family, away from any contact from either Gray or Butler.

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