Friday 23 February 2018

Mother: ‘I’ll never forgive him for killing our beautiful girls’

Una Butler with daughter Ella
Una Butler with daughter Ella
John Butler with daughter Zoe aged one
Zoe Butler
Ella Butler
Una Butler

THE wife of a man who killed their two children before taking his own life has said she will never forgive him.

Una Butler (41) revealed she is “waking up to a living nightmare every day” and the “excruciating pain” of what her husband John did to their family has made her think of suicide herself.

In November 2010, John Butler killed six-year-old Zoe and two-year-old Ella at their home, before killing himself in his car a short distance away.

Mr Butler had been suffering from depression, for which he had received psychiatric treatment.

Una Butler told RTE's 'Morning Ireland' she would “never forgive John for what he did” and she still felt angry at him as well as feeling sorry for him.

She is calling for changes in the way mental health patients are treated.

She also wants the Mental Health Act to be changed to require medical personnel to involve the partners and families of mental health patients in their treatment.

The 2001 Mental Health Act governs the treatment of patients with mental illness and the legislation is currently being reviewed.

An expert group appointed to review the Mental Health Act is due to issue its report by March of next year.

Ms Butler today described the last morning her children were alive and how she had laid out their clothes on the radiator before going to work.

At work she became increasingly uneasy because her husband was not answering his phone and she knew he had been depressed. She eventually drove home but was met by her brother and gardai who told her of the tragedy.

Her two girls were found dead in their pyjamas in front of a television showing cartoons at the family home in Ballycotton in Cork

"I remember that morning that I was like a robot saying "Can I go down to see my girls?". But in my own mind I don't think I actually wanted to go there to see, really, what was after happening because I didn't want to believe it.

“I think I was in shock for a long time afterwards and to this day, I suppose, I'm still trying to accept what had happened -- that Zoe and Ella, their lives were taken by their own father who did suffer with depression.

"And that’s why I believe that that spouses or partners or partners should be involved. Because, when you are living with somebody that's suffering with their mental health, it not only affects them; it affects the whole family."

Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch says she has asked the expert group to examine calls by Ms Butler for changes to the law.

Speaking on RTE Radio, Ms Lynch said she has forwarded all correspondence from Ms Butler to the expert group, and also to the Mental Health Commission.

The minister said she was not certain that you can put into law how clinicians treat people that come to them, and that it was a difficult area that may have to be dealt with by way of guidelines.

However, she pledged to listen to the recommendations of the expert group.

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