A stay-at-home father has been jailed for life after he was found guilty of murdering his six-year-old daughter in a fit of rage.

Ben Butler beat his daughter Ellie to death at the family home in Sutton, south London, before concocting an elaborate plot in a bid to get away with murder.

He shouted at a judge from the dock of the Old Bailey as he was led away to start a minimum 23-year jail sentence.

Ben Butler will now spend at least 23 years behind bars for killing his daughter. Photo / Supplied
Ben Butler will now spend at least 23 years behind bars for killing his daughter. Photo / Supplied

Little Ellie was found dead on her bedroom floor in 2013 with "catastrophic head injuries" more commonly associated with car crash victims.


Ellie's mother, Jennie Gray, 36, was today convicted of child cruelty, having already admitted perverting the course of justice, and was jailed for three and a half years.

Sentencing Butler, senior judge Mr Justice Wilkie said: "I am satisfied, having conducted this trial and having observed you closely for in excess of two months that you were very far from being a good parent.

"You were a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, domineering man who regarded your children and partner as trophies, having no role other than to fit in with your infantile and sentimentalised view of family life, with you as the patriarch, whose every whim was to be catered for."

The judge said Butler's "breathtakingly deceitful" actions as he tried to cover-up the murder had robbed his daughter of any dignity.

Butler swore after the verdicts were returned and was removed from the dock. Gray said: "Big mistake, big mistake, big mistake."

Butler later shouted: "I will fight forever to prove this wrong", and Gray screamed: "We'll be back and you will hear the truth."

Medical experts have described the incident as one of the worst cases of violence in a domestic setting.

Butler had claimed Ellie sustained the horrific injuries when she hit her head as she was jumping up and down in her bedroom while watching Peppa Pig. But prosecutors insisted Ellie's injuries were too "extreme" and "catastrophic" to have been caused by an accidental fall.

The back of Ellie's head was a "boggy mass", the court heard, and a post-mortem examination attributed her death to Butler either beating her over the head with a heavy object or throwing her against the floor or wall.

A series of text messages and letters used in evidence at the trial revealed how Butler repeatedly criticised his daughter, describing her as a 'c***' when she wet herself in front of him.

After killing his daughter, Butler 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.

In the chaotic call, former EastEnders actress Gray screamed and shouted at the operator and carried out CPR, despite knowing her daughter was dead.

Sentencing Gray today, the judge told her: "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."

Sentencing Butler, Mr Justice Wilkie told him: "You murdered her in a brutal assault prompted by your evil temper. You struck her head so hard against a flat surface, or hit her so hard on the head with a blunt implement that, whether you hit her once or more than once, you inflicted catastrophic skull and brain injuries from which she very quickly died."