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'Ellie told us she loved us...the next day she was dead' - a grandfather's grief

British father Ben Butler was today found guilty of murdering his six-year-old daughter, 11 months after winning a custody battle.

Updated 3.20pm

A FATHER HAS been found guilty of murdering his six-year-old girl in their London home just 11 months after she was returned to his care.

Ben Butler, 36, inflicted horrific head injuries on his daughter, Ellie, while looking after her and her younger sibling in October 2013.

He was found guilty of murder and child cruelty at the Old Bailey today, the BBC reported. He now faces life imprisonment.

Ellie’s mother, Jennie Gray, 36, admitted to perverting the course of justice and was also found guilty of child cruelty.

Jurors were told Butler battered his daughter to death in a momentary but volcanic loss of temper.

He put off calling 999 for two hours and instead called Gray home from work. The pair then came up with an elaborate plot to destroy evidence and stage an accidental fall before calling for an ambulance.

family handout PA Source: Family handout/PA

Butler was previously convicted for shaking Ellie when she was just seven weeks old, but this was later quashed on appeal.

In 2012, the couple won a High Court judgment to have Ellie returned to their care.

Ben Butler trial Source: Frank Vincini

The judge sided with Butler despite objections from police, social services and Ellie’s maternal grandparents.

She was murdered 11 months later.

Ellie’s maternal grandfather, Neal Gray, spoke today of how he and his late wife Linda – who died of gall bladder cancer on the first day of Butler’s murder trial – fought desperately to keep Ellie in their care.

In an interview with the Guardian, Gray said he and his wife had a deep mistrust of Butler, who wrote them a letter in 2008 which said, “You f*** with me you f***ing c***… I will get you and find you and find out where you and your family all live.”

The Grays spent their life savings of £70,000 (€90,000) in the High Court case to keep custody of Ellie, but their savings ran out and they were ultimately unrepresented in court.

Gray said that on the handful of occasions they were allowed to see Ellie after giving her back to her parents, she was wearing face paint in what he believes was an attempt to hide bruises on her face.

The last time he saw Ellie – the day before she died – she was in a “terrible state”, he said.

“Her eyes were sunken, she had lost weight and looked gaunt, haggard and frightened, ” he said.

Ellie told us that she loved us and we told her that we loved her. That was the last time we ever saw her. The next day she was dead.

TIMELINE

March 2006: Butler and Jennie Gray meet in a pub.

December 2006: Ellie Butler is born.

February 2007: Ellie is taken to hospital with head and retinal injuries associated with shaken baby syndrome. She is placed in foster care.

March 2009: Butler is convicted of grievous bodily harm and sentenced to 19 months in prison.

June 2010: Butler’s conviction is quashed after judges cast doubt on the initial finding of shaken baby syndrome.

November 2012: The High Court rules that Ellie should be returned to her parents’ care.

28 October 2013: Ellie dies of “catastrophic” head injuries.

21 June 2016: Butler is convicted of murder and child cruelty. Gray is also convicted of child cruelty.

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