Father accused of murdering Ellie Butler 'violent towards partner'


A father accused of murdering his six-year-old daughter has admitted being violent towards his partner, who he said was like "Zippy with the wig".

Ben Butler, 36, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of battering little Ellie to death in a fit of rage in October 2013.

The prosecution say former car salesman Butler had a volatile character and was frequently on the verge of losing his temper with his family.

Butler was jailed for 19 months for "shaking" Ellie in 2007 when she was seven weeks old, but his conviction was quashed on appeal.

In November 2012, Butler and his partner Jennie Gray, 36, won a legal fight to get Ellie back from care, but within 11 months she was dead.

Giving evidence for a second day, Butler told how Gray had acted "crazy" in early 2013.

In March, she had an abortion after suffering an ectopic pregnancy.

Addressing his attitude at the time, Butler said: "For me it was a no-brainer - how could we have another child and risk what we had got?"

When she came out of hospital, Gray was "destroyed", he said.

Butler told jurors he felt angry and their relationship got so bad they were sleeping in separate rooms.

He said: "These four months were supposed to be a golden four months and they ended up being most stressful. To be honest, I did not want to know."

Defence lawyer Icah Peart QC asked if the rows got violent, and Butler said there were "minor violent altercations", adding: "Over the years we have had a lot of tension over a lot of things."

He said the violent episodes carried on during the year, but said Gray was not how she had seemed in the trial, and compared her to characters from the children's TV show Rainbow.

Butler said: "The way you are portraying Jennie, she's like that bear from Rainbow - George. Submissive. She's more like Zippy with the wig, and she's confrontational."

He added: "It would turn to pushing and shoving and things like that."

Butler denied ever drawing blood during the fights, but said Gray had once split his jaw with a ring.

He added: "Anyway, I probably deserved it."

In June, Ellie tripped over a Hoover and bumped her head, knocking her glasses askew, Butler said, adding: "It was one of our biggest fears in our house."

Then in October, Ellie had another incident involving their Jack Russell puppy Minnie.

Butler was worried about being blamed for any bruises because of the history, he said.

He told jurors he had never done anything that would make Ellie frightened of him.

Asked if he ever hit his daughter, Butler said he only ever "tapped her bum".

Butler, of Sutton, south-west London, denies murder and child cruelty. Gray, 36, denies child cruelty but has admitted perverting the course of justice after Ellie's death.