Ellie Butler's mother sobs as she admits delaying calling 999


The mother of tragic Ellie Butler sobbed as she admitted delaying calling 999 for her daughter, as "she was gone already".

Jennie Gray, 36, explained that her actions in the wake of Ellie's death were borne out of fear that her partner Ben Butler would be blamed - as he had been in 2007 when he was accused of shaking her as a baby.

The couple had won a custody battle to get Ellie back just 11 months before she was allegedly battered to death by Butler while he was home alone with her and another child.

Giving evidence for a second day, Gray told jurors: "Mr worst fear came true - exactly what I thought would happen."

Explaining why she initially lied, she insisted: "I said those things in reaction because I was terrified they were going to blame him when he has never laid a finger on my child, as they did this before."

The court has heard how graphic designer Gray was at work in the City of London when Butler allegedly attacked "Daddy's girl" Ellie, causing catastrophic head injuries.

Jobless Butler, 36, urgently called her home to Sutton, south-west London, on the afternoon of October 28 2013, but waited two hours before ringing 999, the Old Bailey heard.

In that time, the couple allegedly destroyed evidence in an attempt to cover up the circumstances of Ellie's death.

That day, Butler contacted Gray at work and told her to "come home now", she said.

Gray denied that he said anything to her on the phone about Ellie being ill.

She arrived at about 2pm and went to the bathroom before going downstairs.

She said: "I saw Ben on the floor shaking and I was frightened. I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what was going on. He said to me 'I think Ellie's dead'.

"I said 'what are you talking about'. My whole body froze. I didn't know what to do, I could feel myself shaking.

"I just went upstairs. I went into Ellie's room. I saw Ellie on the floor and she was just lying there, and I looked at her eyes - her pupils were big. I've never seen that before in my life.

"She was just so still and I could not think, my whole body froze. I got down near her. I tried to breathe air in her mouth. I heard a noise in her stomach and I saw her tummy come up and then this smell - a terrible smell.

"I knew she was gone, she was gone already."

As she broke down in the witness box, Butler slipped out of the dock before returning again to hear more of her evidence minutes later.

Gray went on to say she had been shaking and it was like she was watching events happening to someone else.

She said: "When you go through something like that, after having your baby snatched away before, how frightened, how traumatised you feel."

On the alleged cover-up before she called 999, she said: "You have that feeling in your stomach they are going to do it again.

"They are going to think he did it."

Gray denied that the desperate 999 call in which she carried out CPR on Ellie was a charade.

She added: "That's not true. That's not a charade. I wanted to try and save my little girl. Half of me knew she was gone but half of me didn't accept it."

And she denied planning and scheming with Butler in the 45 minutes before they called emergency services after her arrival home.

She said: "He said something about wanting to get some air. It was like my whole body froze and time stood still."

Gray said it was only when the other child in the house said "Ellie won't wake up", that she knew she had to call an ambulance.

Jurors have been told that Butler was convicted of shaking Ellie in 2007 but cleared on appeal.

The couple won custody of their daughter in November 2012, 11 months before she died.

Gray has admitted perverting the course of justice in the wake of Ellie's death but denies child cruelty over an untreated broken shoulder.

Butler denies murdering Ellie and child cruelty.