Ellie's injuries could not have been an accident, father's murder trial told
A six-year-old girl's devastating head injuries could not have been caused by an accidental fall, as claimed by her father, a court has heard.
Paramedics found Ellie Butler lying in her bedroom beside a low child's stool after her parents raised the alarm.
In the 999 call on October 28 2013, her father Ben Butler, who had been home alone with the girl, said she had fallen, the court has heard.
Prosecutor Ed Brown QC said a post-mortem examination revealed Ellie suffered skull fractures from least two severe impacts from being thrown against a wall or hit with a heavy blunt weapon.
He said an experienced neurological pathologist concluded that "an accidental fall from, for example, the chair found next to Ellie and close to the wardrobe could not have caused the injuries that Ellie suffered and that killed her".
On the overall picture from the experts, he said: "A domestic accident could not have given rise to these complex, catastrophic and rapidly fatal injuries."
Butler, 36, from Sutton, south-west London, is on trial at the Old Bailey charged with Ellie's murder.
He is also accused with his partner Jennie Gray, 36, of child cruelty over an untreated broken shoulder Ellie suffered weeks before her death.
While they deny these charges, Gray has admitted perverting the course of justice by allegedly helping her bullying partner destroy evidence and stage the scene in the two hours after Ellie was fatally hurt.
Mr Brown told jurors it was a "distressing case" of a father accused of murdering his daughter and failing to seek medical help for her earlier injury.
Gray had been "determined and persistent" in trying to protect him by hiding and destroying evidence, he said.
The court was shown CCTV footage of Gray's desperate dash home amid a flurry of phone calls and texts with Butler on the day of Ellie's death.
While at her office in the City of London, Butler tried to call at 12.46pm but was diverted to voicemail. Seconds later, he texted "answer".
She called him back immediately and they spoke for 21 seconds, according to telephone records.
Two minutes later, Gray is seen to be hurrying out of her office at 20 Old Bailey, running past the historic criminal courts opposite with a gathering of media outside and into a taxi which took her back to Sutton.
During the journey, the couple exchanged calls lasting a matter of seconds.
After she arrived home, Gray texted her manager to apologise and explain she had been "feeling unwell".
All the while, Ellie was lying fatally injured or dead in her bedroom.
Giving evidence, cabbie Derek Greenwood said Gray appeared "quite anxious" when he picked her up near the Old Bailey.
He recalled the day because there had been a big storm the night before that brought trees down.
He told jurors he agreed to take Gray on the £50 journey after she told him "My child is really ill".
He overheard her on her mobile phone in the taxi saying loudly "You have done what?", "You have gone where?" and "You're joking".
Mr Greenwood said she appeared "slightly agitated, wanted to get to her destination".
Butler made the 999 call for an ambulance at 2.46pm, exactly two hours after he had first alerted his partner.
Colleague Tracey Bernstein said in a statement that the way Gray got up and left the office on October 28 was "just not right".
She said: "My gut feeling just then was she was walking out and not coming back."
Another former workmate, Victoria Harris, had noticed Gray on the phone by the lifts with her hand over her mouth, appearing "agitated".
She recalled: "It did appear to me it was more than just a secret conversation. Something was not right."
Mother-of-four Lucy Jackson told the court that Butler and Gray had been her neighbours for about a year.
She said Ellie was always "well-presented and clean".
But she recalled hearing arguments and a raised male voice coming from their home.
In the autumn of 2013, Ms Jackson heard him shout: "Where did you hide the f****** underwear?"
Gray's ex-line manager Lesley Heath confirmed that on the day of Ellie's death, she texted at 2.13pm to say: "Hi Lesley, sorry but I had to go home because I'm feel unwell."
Not long after Gray had joined the office she had turned up for work with a "Tom and Jerry"-style lump on her head, she said.
And on October 25, she had stayed at home to look after her child as she claimed her partner's father in Devon was very ill.
The trial was adjourned until Friday morning.