Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ex-girlfriend of tragic Ellie Butler's dad 'knew he would kill his daughter after winning custody battle'

Undated family handout photo of Ellie Butler aged five
Undated family handout photo of Ellie Butler aged five

Jemma Crew

The former girlfriend of Ben Butler has said she knew he would go on to kill his daughter Ellie when he won his custody battle for her.

Butler, 36, was jailed for life for murdering the six-year-old in a fit of rage, 11 months after winning her back in a high-profile custody battle following his exoneration for assaulting Ellie by a family judge in 2012.

He had a string of convictions for assault between 2004 and 2010, including two on his ex-girlfriend Hannah Hillman, who said she was convinced he had assaulted Ellie and knew he would go on to do worse.

Although the abuse against Miss Hillman happened two years before Butler was accused of shaking Ellie when she was a baby, she was never called to give evidence.

"I felt sick to my stomach. I knew there was not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that he had committed that crime," Miss Hillman told Good Morning Britain.

"I felt guilt, to a certain degree, where maybe I could have stood up and said something a bit sooner.

Ben Butler
Ben Butler
Screen grab from an undated home video issued by the Metropolitan Police of Ellie Butler with her father Ben who has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering his six-year-old daughter in 2013

"I turned on the TV and I actually saw him on the show and I thought, he's actually going to get this girl back, and I said, 'he's going to kill her'.

"I knew that one day that man was going to kill somebody," she added.

Miss Hillman described her ex-partner, who kicked and punched her in public in broad daylight, as "incredibly jealous" and "very, very insecure".

"If you've been in the hands of someone like that... you are always going to be scared of them and frightened of them," she added.

Ellie Butler with her mother Jennie Gray.
Ellie Butler with her mother Jennie Gray.

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