A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his six-year-old daughter just 11 months after winning a custody battle.
Ben Butler, 36, inflicted catastrophic head injuries to Ellie while looking after her at their home in Sutton, south-west London, in October 2013.
Jennie Gray, Ellie’s mother, had admitted to perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey, and both were found guilty of child cruelty in relation to a shoulder injury.
Gray was jailed for 42 months for covering up the killing and child cruelty.
‘I’ll fight for the rest of my life – unbelievable,’ Butler shouted following the verdict today.
‘I want to be sentenced now so I can fight in the Appeal Court.
‘I will fight forever to prove this wrong. My daughter was jumping in the house. I’m 100% not guilty.’
Butler was jailed for at least 23 years.
In the weeks leading up to the killing, Ellie had suffered a broken shoulder, which would have been painful, but neither sought medical treatment for her, jurors at the Old Bailey were told in April.
- Butler said he was convinced Ellie suffered her head injury around October 10 or 11 when she fell chasing Minnie, their Jack Russell puppy, on the stairs. He suggested this injury caused her death on October 28.
- The 24in-high three-legged pink Disney princess’s chair was found upturned by Ellie’s body. A defense expert suggested it was possible for her to fall from such a height and suffer a fatal injury – but not two. The prosecution said the scene had been staged.
- Butler claimed Ellie was physically more fragile than other children. He alleged she had a skull fracture while in the care of others, including her maternal grandparents. A medical expert could not say how old the fracture was.
- Butler accused investigators of trying to frame him as he had embarrassed them by winning his appeal over the 2007 baby-shaking case. However, Detective Inspector Dave Reid rubbished Butler’s claim, saying the evidence against him was ‘overwhelming’.
- Butler ranted about the ‘medical Mafia’, saying the establishment was set against him. Icah Peart, QC, asked Dr Anthony Risdon: ‘If you had been told something which suggests Ellie may have been subjected to abusive behavior, isn’t that going to have the ability to influence you?’ The pathologist replied: ‘I don’t think so in this case in terms of fatal injuries.’
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC said Ellie suffered ‘very significant fractures to her skull’ as the result of ‘really significant force’.
There were also underlying brain and eye injuries as well as bruises consistent with fingers gripping under the child’s jaw.
Mr Brown said the injuries were inflicted ‘deliberately’ in perhaps brief but ‘devastating moments’.
Butler was previously convicted for shaking Ellie as a baby, although this was later quashed on appeal.