‘I didn’t cause any injury to Ellie and will prove it’, father tells inquest

A father convicted of murdering his daughter 11 months after she was put back in his care has denied causing her “any injury” at an inquest into her death.

Ben Butler beat six-year-old Ellie to death at their family home in Sutton, south London, in October 2013.

He is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 23 years after he was convicted of murder by a jury at the Old Bailey.

Giving evidence to the inquest at South London Coroner’s Court, via video link from prison, Butler (pictured) repeatedly denied killing Ellie.

“I didn’t cause Ellie to die, I didn’t cause any injury to Ellie at all,” he said.

“I believe I have got some proof and this is far from over, that’s the message to you all – this is far from over.”

Inquest counsel Adam Wiseman QC asked Butler if he accepted the verdict of the trial jury.

“Absolutely not, I don’t believe that the jury at the time had all the facts and certain evidence was not placed in front of them that I believe would have changed the outcome, hence why I will be appealing the decision and I will prove it,” he replied.

He admitted being verbally abusive to Ellie’s mother, Jennie Gray, after texts were read to the inquest but said he did not abuse his daughter.

“I realise the texts were horrendous, the things I had said, for me it was saying bad things in the heat of the moment but I’m pretty ashamed of myself,” he said.

“But to say you’re being abusive to your partner (then) you must be abusive to your children, that’s two different things.”

He added: “I don’t accept I caused harm to Ellie and will fight in a different court to prove it.”

Ellie was returned to the care of her birth parents in November 2012 after a ruling by Mrs Justice Hogg in the Family Division of the High Court.

She had been placed in the care of her grandparents as a baby after Butler was accused of shaking her.

Social worker Steven Atherton said: “We were part of a system that failed this little girl.”

He added that Ellie was “emotionally struggling” with the move from her grandparents to her birth parents.

He said her grandparents, Neal and Linda Gray, also found the move difficult.

Jennie Gray was convicted of child cruelty and perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 42 months in prison.

The inquest is examining whether there were failures on the part of the authorities with regard to Ellie’s murder, including the sharing of information, co-operation and communication between organisations.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Metropolitan Police / PA Wire.