Saturday 10 December 2016

Man accused of killing daughter (6) in violent rage was 'completely devoted to her' - mother of child

Emily Pennink

Published 23/05/2016 | 11:37

Jennie Gray arrives at the Central Criminal Court in the City of London to give evidence after admitting a charge of perverting the course of justice, in the trial of her partner Ben Butler who stands accused of killing their six-year-old daughter Ellie Butler in a fit of anger
Jennie Gray arrives at the Central Criminal Court in the City of London to give evidence after admitting a charge of perverting the course of justice, in the trial of her partner Ben Butler who stands accused of killing their six-year-old daughter Ellie Butler in a fit of anger

The man accused of killing six-year-old Ellie Butler in a violent rage was "completely devoted" to his little girl, his partner has told a jury.

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Graphic designer Jennie Gray (36) was at work in the City of London when Ben Butler allegedly attacked Ellie, causing catastrophic head injuries.

Screen grab from an undated home video issued by the Metropolitan Police of Ellie Butler
Screen grab from an undated home video issued by the Metropolitan Police of Ellie Butler

Jobless Butler (36) urgently called her home to Sutton, south-west London, on the afternoon of October 28 2013 but waited two hours before ringing 999, the Old Bailey heard.

In that time, the couple allegedly destroyed evidence in an attempt to cover up the circumstances of Ellie's death, the court was told.

Giving evidence, Gray told jurors that she met Butler at her brother's birthday party in March 2006.

The relationship was "casual" and they were both shocked when she became pregnant.

But she said he supported her decision to keep the baby and went to the hospital after a traumatic birth at St Helier - the "worst hospital you could ever imagine".

Afterwards, Gray took Ellie back to her one-bedroom flat but Butler would call in daily.

Gray told jurors: "He was completely devoted, completely in love with the fact that he was a dad."

In February 2007, she dropped Ellie off with Butler and he said: "Cor, she's pale, isn't she?"

Later, she received a call from Butler's friend telling her to get to the hospital.

In the background she could hear Butler screaming "She's not breathing", Gray said.

At the hospital, she said a member of staff told them "Ellie's been violently shaken", she told jurors.

The baby was taken to another hospital but not before "many mistakes" had been made by the hospital that "misdiagnosed" her, Gray said.

She told jurors that Butler was wrongly accused of shaking Ellie and she was also arrested over the incident.

Describing the day Ellie was taken into care, she said: "It was one of the worst days of my life.

"I went back and got all the toys she was used to. I wanted it to be as smooth as possible for her.

"I tried to do as best I could but I was heartbroken. I remember the foster carer was holding Ellie and her little head turned and watched me walk out that day."

Afterwards, Gray said she "went to pieces" and turned to alcohol.

Butler helped her survive and they both fought for access to their daughter, she said.

Jurors have been told that Butler was convicted of shaking Ellie but cleared on appeal.

The couple won custody of their daughter in November 2012, 11 months before she died.

Gray has admitted perverting the course of justice in the wake of Ellie's death but denies child cruelty over an untreated broken shoulder.

Butler has denied murdering Ellie and child cruelty.

Press Association

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