Ellie Butler's mother's 'devotion to partner overcame concerns'

Ellie Butler Image copyright PA
Image caption Ellie Butler died while at home with her father in 2013

The mother of a girl of six allegedly murdered by her father has been accused of allowing devotion to him to override concern for her daughter.

Jennie Gray's partner Ben Butler denies murdering Ellie at the family home in Sutton, south-west London, in 2013.

Ms Gray told the Old Bailey she had visited Mr Butler in prison 190 times since he was charged with murder.

She denies child cruelty but has admitted perverting the course of justice.

Ms Gray was charged with child cruelty after allegedly failing to get treatment for a broken shoulder suffered by Ellie.

But she has admitted perverting the course of justice in helping to cover up what had happened.

You never listen. Your mouth. The way you react and come across a lot like Ellie. You will end up hurt

Text from Ben Butler to Jennie Gray

Ms Gray was at work as a graphic designer in the City of London when Mr Butler, 36, allegedly murdered their daughter in October of 2013.

Ben FitzGerald, prosecuting, told the jury Mr Butler and Ms Gray's lies were "bound together".

Ellie's mother told jurors she was "absolutely committed" to the man she referred to in court as her husband.

"Ben is my family. I do love him. We have been through a miscarriage of justice together and I was always grateful to Ben because he got me my (baby) back and we have both lost a little girl," she said.

In relation to a series of abusive texts Mr Butler sent Ms Gray in 2013, the prosecutor said she had been "hiding the truth" about his violence for fear of destroying the chance of keeping Ellie and staying together.

Ms Gray said she had not forgiven him for sending her the messages full of expletives and doubted whether they could be in a relationship again.

She said: "He was not a nice boyfriend to me but he was a bloody good dad. He was happy to be a stay-at-home husband."

Ms Gray added: "Ben was not violent to me and he certainly was not violent to my daughter and I maintain that 100 per cent."

Mr FitzGerald continued: "You allowed your devotion to Mr Butler to overcome what should have been your proper concerns for your child."

Ms Gray said this was "not true".

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ms Gray told jurors when Mr Butler wrote to her "you are dead to me", it was "just verbal"

She told jurors her partner was a "laddie man" who could be violent to other men when he was out, but not to her.

Asked if the girl's father had a temper, the graphic designer said: "I have a temper. You have a temper. We all have a temper."

The Old Bailey was told Ms Gray went to work with a bump on her head and put it down to an accident slipping on steps and said she was "clumsy".

Ellie's mother also said she was "out of order" when she wrote a list of 10 points about her daughter's bad behaviour, accusing her of lying, being "constantly manipulative" and untrustworthy.

The prosecutor then read out a series of text messages from 2013 where Mr Butler blamed Ellie for Ms Gray's "mental" behaviour and said "I hate you both".

In another, he wrote: "You never listen. Your mouth. The way you react and come across a lot like Ellie. You will end up hurt."

Ms Gray said this suggestion was not accurate.

The trial has heard Mr Butler was convicted of shaking Ellie in 2007 but cleared on appeal. Ellie was returned to the family 11 months before her death after the couple won their custody battle.

The trial continues.

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