Ben Butler trial: Letters describe couple's turbulent relationship

Ben Butler with Ellie Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ben Butler is accused of murdering his daughter Ellie Butler

A couple's turbulent relationship has been revealed in letters found after their six-year-old daughter died from head injuries.

Ben Butler is accused of killing Ellie Butler at their family home in Sutton, south-west London in October.

A jury heard how Ellie lived in a "toxic" environment due to Mr Butler's volatile temper, while partner Jennie Gray would do anything to please him.

The 36-year-old denies murder and a separate charge of child cruelty.

Ellie's mother Ms Gray, 36, also denies a child cruelty charge relating to a shoulder injury.

She has admitted perverting the course of justice.

'Bloody good job'

The prosecution has said she gave a "lying account" to police of events leading up to Ellie's death and showed jurors a video of an interview.

It showed Ms Gray weeping as she described finding Ellie lying on the floor of her pink bedroom not breathing.

She told a detective: "I don't believe Ben's done anything to her" and said that Mr Butler cared for Ellie while she was at work and "did a bloody good job" as a parent.

Image copyright Cascade News
Image caption Ben Butler had a conviction for causing Ellie head injuries quashed in 2010

Ellie died 11 months after the couple got her back from care.

She was returned to them after Mr Butler was cleared on appeal of assaulting her as a six-week-old baby.

A post-mortem examination revealed she suffered skull fractures from at least two severe impacts.

'Angry, hateful and violent'

The Old Bailey was shown handwritten letters and prayers seized by police at the family home in Westover Close following Ellie's death.

One "letter of prayer" found inside the bedroom at the couple's home read: "Make him stop being angry, hateful and violent."

Another read: "Please don't let Ben leave me but make him learn to like me.

"Stop violence and make him WANT ME and be there at the birth if I have a baby boy."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Six-year-old Ellie Butler died at her home in Sutton

In a letter from Mr Butler to Ms Gray, he asked her to "try harder with your mouth as it's a trigger for me".

He also wrote: "I would be lost without you."

A note entitled "Ellie's behaviour" outlined 10 points including: "lying, not doing as she's told, does not listen or pay attention, constantly answers back, argues, constantly manipulative, feel you can't trust her, acts like a child prior to her years, we feel she is aware she is doing this".

The trial continues.

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