Ben Butler murder trial hears Peppa Pig fall theory

Ben Butler with Ellie Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ellie Butler was a big Peppa Pig fan, the court has heard

A six-year-old girl suffered fatal head injuries when she fell from a stool while mimicking Peppa Pig, a defence lawyer has suggested.

Ben Butler, 36, denies murdering his daughter Ellie by causing the "catastrophic" injuries.

She may have fallen and hit her head as she watched the popular children's cartoon, the Old Bailey heard.

The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem test said he had never seen someone die from similar injuries.

During his cross-examination of Prof Anthony Risdon, Mr Butler's defence counsel Icah Peart QC said Ellie had been a fan of the cartoon, and there were "Peppa Pig artefacts about her room".

'Considerable impact'

He asked the pathologist if he knew a rhyme from the show, where Peppa jumps and falls from a bed.

"What I am talking about is someone jumping up and down on the bed and, as Peppa Pig does, jumps over backwards, falls down and hits her head on the concrete floor," he said.

Mr Peart QC then asked Prof Risdon if such momentum may have resulted in Ellie's injuries.

He replied: "I have seen a large number of head injuries in children.

"I have never come across a scenario like that and I have never come across a short distance fall that results in a similar injury."

He said Ellie died from a "considerable blunt impact to the head" and not from a short fall from a stool or chair.

There was a "strong possibility" that four marks on her jaw were caused by "gripping", he added.

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

Earlier, Prof Risdon told jurors he had not been influenced by a colleague who had suggested Ellie was killed by her parents.

Jurors have been told Mr Butler had previously been convicted of assaulting Ellie when she was a baby, but was cleared on appeal.

She was returned home 11 months before her death in October 2013.

The jury also heard from consultant neuroradiologist Neil Stoodley, who told Mr Butler's 2007 trial at Croydon Crown Court Ellie, then a baby, had suffered injuries as a result of being shaken.

He also reiterated his findings at the Court of Appeal in 2012, following which Ellie was returned to her parent's custody.

Challenging the doctor on his earlier evidence, Mr Peart asked whether Mr Stoodley thought his previous diagnosis was "incorrect".

The consultant replied: "No, not on the basis of the evidence as I understand it."

'History of injuries'

On Tuesday, jurors heard that Ellie had suffered four distinct periods of injuries.

Skeletal pathology expert Professor Anthony Freemont said a healed skull fracture could have dated back to the first allegation of assault by Mr Butler in 2007.

Three to five weeks before her death, Ellie suffered a broken shoulder bone.

Then she sustained "bruising" to the skull, two to three weeks before the fatal injury, the court heard.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Michael Uglow said Ellie would have been in "acute pain" which she would not have been able to hide for 10 days after her shoulder was broken.

Mr Butler, from Sutton, south-west London, also denies child cruelty.

Her mother Jennie Gray, 36, denies child cruelty but has admitted perverting the course of justice over allegations she destroyed evidence and lied to police to protect her partner.

The trial continues.

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