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Ellie Butler murder accused 'looked for fights to improve his mood'

Published 11/05/2016

Jennie Gray and Ben Butler in the dock at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook)
Jennie Gray and Ben Butler in the dock at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook)

The father accused of beating to death six-year-old Ellie Butler in a fit of rage admitted looking out for fights as a way to "improve his mood", a court heard.

Ben Butler, 36, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering his daughter in October 2013, 11 months after winning a custody battle to get her back from care.

The prosecution say Butler had a volatile character and was frequently on the verge of losing his temper.

They cite abusive text messages to his partner Jennie Gray, 36, in which he appears enraged and on the brink of violence.

The court has heard he had a string of convictions for assault, including two attacks on his ex-girlfriend in public, all of which he admitted.

Psychologist Dr Tim Green interviewed the defendant over four hours to compile a report after Butler pleading guilty to carrying out an assault on a man in Kingston upon Thames.

In the early hours of April 17 2004, he had punched Mark Evans in the face believing the victim had attacked a friend of his in a nightclub.

Prosecutor Ed Brown QC read sections of the report in which Dr Green noted Butler was "co-operative" and answered questions "frankly".

Dr Green wrote: "He stated that he had in the past hoped that situations might present themselves where he could engage in violence.

"He believed that violence could help him improve his mood when he was upset. Historically he would become angry and punch people.

"He was adamant he had never hit anybody without a reason. He also said at times he would find it difficult to control his violence when he felt humiliated or was made fun of.

"Mr Butler stated he believed he would continue to hit out at other men when he felt he has been threatened. This is more likely when his mood is low which happens about two or three times a week."

Jurors were told Dr Green was unable to give evidence in the Old Bailey murder trial because he is "gravely ill" in hospital.

Dr Green had interviewed Butler twice in October 2004 and the defendant was told his comments might be used as evidence in court.

Ahead of the trial this year, the psychologist had emailed an officer in the case to say he was "uncomfortable" about giving evidence on Butler as so much time had passed.

In an email sent days ago, he again stressed that his 2004 report was "very out of date".

Mr Justice Wilkie explained to jurors that Dr Green was not present because he was "gravely ill in hospital awaiting a major organ transplant".

Butler, of Sutton, south west London, denies murder and child cruelty. Gray, 36, denies child cruelty but has admitted perverting the course of justice after Ellie's death.

The court has heard that Butler was found guilty of assaulting Ellie when she was a baby in 2007. H is conviction was quashed on appeal, leading to a custody battle for the little girl which succeeded in November 2012.

The trial was adjourned until Friday, when the defence case will start.

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From Belfast Telegraph