Monday 20 January 2020

Inquest to examine if state failed mother after daughter Ellie (6) found dead at home

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

The jailed parents of Ellie Butler, who were convicted in connection with the six-year-old's death, have appeared at a hearing ahead of her inquest.

The inquest will look at whether there were failures on the part of the authorities with regard to the young girl's murder, a pre-inquest hearing at South London Coroner's Court was told.

Ellie died in October 2013 after being found injured at her home in Sutton, south-west London.

Her father, Ben Butler, was convicted of murdering her in June last year following a trial at the Old Bailey. He was given a minimum 23-year jail term.

Ben Butler
Ben Butler

Ellie's mother, Jennie Gray, was sentenced to 42 months in prison after being convicted of child cruelty. She had admitted perverting the course of justice.

The pair appeared from prison via video link at the hearing. They said they had not applied for legal aid to be represented at the inquest but wished to do so.

Retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs, sitting as coroner, told those present she wished proceedings to be carried out efficiently to provide "some form of closure for people concerned".

She said the state had a duty to look at whether there had been a breach concerning whether "authorities knew or ought to have known of a real and immediate risk" to the youngster's life.

She said the inquest will engage Article Two of the European Convention of Human Rights so will consider "whether there were failures on the part of authorities, agencies or individuals to protect Ellie's life and prevent her death."

Dame Dobbs indicated the proceedings could be a "judge-alone inquest" but gave interested parties four weeks to make submissions otherwise.

Following the short hearing on Friday, Ellie's grandfather Neal Gray said: "We are glad things are moving on with regard to this case."

The little girl had been placed with her grandparents after Butler was accused of shaking her when she was a baby.

Following investigations, Ellie was returned to the care of her parents.

The inquest is due to be held on March 12 next year, with a further pre-inquest hearing before then set for December 15.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News