Social services ‘can’t be blamed’ over girl’s murder

Ellie Butler was beaten to death by Ben Butler in South London in 2013.

A high court ruling had in 2012 returned her to the care of her mother and father from her grandparents home, where she had lived since her father was accused of shaking her as a baby.

Less than a year and a half later she was dead, and her father found guilty of murder.

Social services ‘can’t be blamed’ over girl’s murder
Social services ‘can’t be blamed’ over girl’s murder

Ruling on whether authorities had been responsible, coroner Dame Linda Dobbs said on Tuesday “despite various failings” she was “unable to conclude that any acts or omissions by the relevant agencies possibly or probably contributed”.

Speaking after the inquest, Ellie’s grandfather Neil Gray described the verdict as “unbearably sad”.

“I am grateful that Dame Linda Dobbs has scrutinised this case, but disappointed that the agencies that, in my view, failed my dear granddaughter Ellie have not had to account for the role they played.

“S4C (Services for Children), Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), and Sutton Children’s Services all accepted they had let her down,” he said.

“I still believe that, had the childcare agencies worked together and shared information, and had the parents not been so readily believed, Ellie would still be alive today.”

The inquest investigated whether failings by authorities contributed to Ellie’s death, examining cooperation between organisations in the year leading up to the murder but not the 2012 ruling that sent her back to live with her parents.

My Gray previously told Sky News that in the year leading up to her death they had seen Ellie with bruises on her face and appearing bedraggled.

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When the decision to return her to her parents was made in 2012 he had told judge Mrs Justice Hogg “one day you may have blood on your hands,” he recalled.

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