Ben Butler jailed for 23 years for murdering 6-year-old daughter

Ellie killed 11 months after being returned to father’s care following custody battle

Ben Butler pictured with daughter Ellie - he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for her murder on Tuesday. Photograph: Met Police

Ben Butler pictured with daughter Ellie - he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for her murder on Tuesday. Photograph: Met Police

 

Ben Butler has been jailed for life with a minimum term of at least 23 years for killing his six-year-old daughter in a fit of rage — 11 months after winning her back in a high-profile custody battle.

Butler (36) inflicted horrific head injuries on his daughter Ellie while left home alone to look after her and her younger sibling in October 2013.

He was found guilty of murder and child cruelty following a trial at the Old Bailey.

His partner, Jennie Gray (36) was convicted of child cruelty, having already admitted perverting the course of justice.

The couple angrily protested their innocence when jurors returned their verdicts on the third day of deliberations.

Gray told them they had made a “big mistake”, while Butler shouted angrily that he would “fight forever” and appeal against their decision.

Butler was sentenced to five years for child cruelty, to run concurrently, and Gray was jailed for 42 months.

Mr Justice Wilkie told him: “You are a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, violent and domineering man who, I am satisfied, regarded your children and your partner as trophies, having no role other than to fit in with your infantile and sentimentalised fantasy of family life with you as the patriarch whose every whim was to be responded to appropriately.”

He told a sobbing Gray that she may have been “exceptionally naive and stupid” to believe Butler and take part in the cover-up.

The trial heard that Butler battered his daughter to death at the family home in Sutton, south London, in a momentary but volcanic loss of temper.

He put off dialling 999 for two hours and instead summoned Gray back from work in the City of London.

The pair concocted an elaborate plot to destroy evidence and stage the scene of an accidental fall before alerting the ambulance service.

The judge told Gray: “You played your full part in the grotesque charade that was the 999 call whilst subjecting your dead daughter to the indignity of pointless CPR when you knew full well she had been dead for two hours.”

PA