Ellie Butler mother Jennie Gray denies 'skilful and prolific liar' charge

Ellie Butler with Jennie Gray Image copyright PA
Image caption Jennie Gray said she did not call 999 immediately because she was "terrified" her partner would be blamed

The mother of a six-year-old girl who was allegedly murdered by her father has denied being a "skilful and prolific liar".

Jennie Gray, who denies child cruelty, was giving evidence about the day she found Ellie on the bedroom floor of their south-west London home in 2013.

Ms Gray, 36, told the Old Bailey she "knew she was gone".

Prosecutor Ben Fitzgerald said the accused put on a "quite remarkable performance" in interview with police.

Ms Gray's partner, Ben Butler, denies murdering Ellie at the family home in Sutton and also denies a charge of child cruelty over an untreated broken shoulder.

Ellie's mother has admitted perverting the course of justice in helping to cover up what had happened.

I was terrified they would think Ben did it. I thought they're going to blame him again

Jennie Gray

Describing the day Ellie died, Ms Gray said she was called home from work in the City by Mr Butler. She denied he said anything to her on the phone about Ellie being ill.

She said she went to the bathroom before going downstairs where she saw Mr Butler on the floor shaking. He then said to her: "I think Ellie's dead," she told jurors.

"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."

'Save my little girl'

Mr Butler, 36, said his daughter fell off a stool while playing a game in her bedroom at their home.

After discovering Ellie when she arrived home, it was 45 minutes before they called 999 - two hours allegedly after Ellie died. In that time, the prosecution say they tried to cover up what happened.

"I was terrified they would think Ben did it. I thought they're going to blame him again," she said.

In 2007 Ben Butler was jailed for 19 months for violently shaking Ellie as a baby. He was later cleared and freed before the family were reunited in 2011 following a High Court battle.

She denied that the 999 call was a charade, adding: "I wanted to try and save my little girl. Half of me knew she was gone but half of me didn't accept it."

Ms 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.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ben Butler denies causing catastrophic head injuries to Ellie in 2013, saying she fell off a stool while playing a game

About the involvement of police officers, Ms Gray told the court: "These people have taken a tragedy and used it against us again. Their evidence is shady.

"Ben has never laid a finger on our daughter. I grew up believing in the police and courts, but in 2007 my illusions were destroyed.

"This is why I am how I am. Because of what they did to us."

Mr Fitzgerald said: "You have lied and lied to cover up Butler's violence to you and to Ellie. And you are still lying to this jury."

Ms Gray replied: "Incorrect. Incorrect. I swore on the Bible and I'm a Christian and I would not do that lightly."

The prosecutor went on: "You sacrificed Ellie's well-being for your relationship with Butler. She took second place."

Ms Gray replied: "Incorrect."

Mr Fitzgerald said in an interview with the police Ms Gray had revealed herself to be a "skilful and prolific liar" to which she replied: "I don't agree."

The jury were played an extract from the interview in which Ms Gray said she remembered hearing Ellie playing in her room after she got home.

She said the reason for the lie was to protect "an innocent man".

The case continues.

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