Mother of murdered Ellie Butler loses bid to overturn convictions

Jennie Gray unable to appeal against perverting course of justice and child cruelty verdicts

A woman found guilty of child cruelty after her partner murdered their six-year-old daughter has had her attempt to overturn her convictions rejected by the court of appeal.

Jennie Gray, the mother of Ellie Butler, was also convicted of perverting the course of justice after admitting to her role in a “cover-up” to protect Ellie’s father, Ben Butler.

She was sentenced to 42 months in jail, while Butler was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 23 years, for murder. Gray is due to be released from prison soon.

She applied to appeal against both her convictions, only accepting part of her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

In her appeal request, Gray made a number of complaints about the conduct of her legal team and questioned whether Ellie could have fallen from a stool rather than being deliberately injured by Butler.

On Friday the three appeal court judges found no grounds to accept her application to appeal against the convictions.

Ellie’s grandfather Neal Gray said he was pleased by the decision.

“Justice must be done, and has been done in relation to this attempt to appeal against these convictions,” he said.

Gray had no legal representation in court and did not appear via video link from prison.

She and Butler were found guilty of child cruelty for leaving Ellie with an untreated shoulder fracture in the weeks leading up to her death. Ellie sustained “catastrophic” head injuries at the family home in Sutton, south London, in 2013, 11 months after she was returned to her parents following a custody battle.

She had been cared for most of her life by Neal and Linda Gray, who did not want her to return to her parents because of concerns about her welfare. Ellie went home in November 2012 after a court quashed Butler’s conviction for violently shaking her when she was a baby.

Butler was accused of beating Ellie to death in a violent rage while at home alone with her. Gray admitted her role in trying to make it appear that Ellie died two hours later than she had. The couple claimed her death was the result of an accident.

The couple have twice appeared via video link at inquest hearings into Ellie’s death, interrupting proceedings several times.

Linda Dobbs, the retired judge presiding over the inquest, said it would examine the role of state agencies in Ellie’s death.

The full inquest is due to begin on 12 March.


Diane Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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