Ellie Butler’s killer father warned over inquest outburst
Retired high court judge Dame Linda Dobbs threatened to mute Ben Butler’s microphone.
A coroner has berated a murderer father after he accused an inquest into his daughter’s death of being corrupt.
Ben Butler, who beat six-year-old Ellie Butler to death at their family home in Sutton, south London, threatened to walk out of the hearing during an outburst on Friday.
Retired high court judge Dame Linda Dobbs, sitting as coroner in the inquest, warned him: “I’m going to get extremely annoyed,” and said she would mute his microphone if he continued.
Butler is currently serving life with a minimum term of 23 years for Ellie’s murder and has been listening to the hearing via video link from prison.
He said: “This is corrupt, I probably won’t bother coming back this afternoon.”
Dame Linda replied: “That’s entirely up to you if you don’t want to take part in these proceedings.”
Butler continued: “You’ve been brought in just to do the job and not allowed anyone any leeway ever.”
Dame Linda responded: “Mr Butler, you have had the most incredible amount of leeway and I have been as patient as I can.
“If you are discontent with that, so be it – if you carry on much longer I will turn you off, if you want to walk out that’s up to you.”
Butler’s tirade came after he was stopped from putting irrelevant questions to a witness at South London Coroner’s Court in Croydon.
Ellie was murdered in October 2013, just 11 months after she was returned to the care of him and her mother.
Her grandfather Neal Gray sat in the front of the hearing and remained silent during the exchange.
The girl had been placed in the care of her grandparents as a baby after Butler was accused of shaking her.
Ellie was returned to her birth parents after a ruling by Mrs Justice Hogg in the family division of the High Court.
The inquest will examine whether there were failures on the part of the authorities with regard to Ellie’s murder, including the sharing of information, co-operation and communication between organisations.
Ellie’s mother, Jennie Gray, who was given a 42-month term for child cruelty and perverting the course of justice, followed the hearing from another prison.
It is expected to conclude at the end of next week.