"Evil" Sutton father Ben Butler has been jailed for life with a minimum term of at least 23 years for killing his six-year-old daughter in a fit of rage - 11 months after winning her back in a high-profile custody battle.

Butler, 36, inflicted horrific head injuries on little Ellie while left home alone in Westover Close, Belmont, to look after her and her younger sibling in October 2013.

He was found guilty of murder and child cruelty following a trial at the Old Bailey.

His partner, Jennie Gray, 36, was convicted of child cruelty, having already admitted perverting the course of justice, and was jailed for 42 months this afternoon.

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A post-mortem examination concluded Ellie’s death was caused by the little girl being either beaten her over the head with a heavy object or thrown against the floor or a wall.

The couple angrily protested their innocence when jurors returned their verdicts on the third day of deliberations.

Gray told them they had made a "big mistake", while Butler shouted angrily that he would "fight forever" and appeal against their decision.

But Mr Justice Wilkie, sentencing Butler, told him: "You murdered her in a brutal assault prompted by your evil temper.

"You struck her head so hard against a flat surface or hit her so hard on the head with a blunt implement that, whether you hit her once or more than once, you inflicted catastrophic skull and brain injuries from which she quickly died.

"All of this took some two hours during all of which you left your dead daughter lying unattended on her bedroom floor like a carefully placed prop in a stage scene.

"You are a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, violent and domineering man who, I am satisfied, regarded your children and your partner as trophies having no role other than to fit in with your infantile and sentimentalised fantasy of family life with you as the patriarch whose every whim was to be responded to appropriately."

It can now be reported that as part of the cover-up the couple set up their younger sibling, who was in the house at the time, to discover the body in her bedroom before they called the emergency services.

In that time, the pair concocted an elaborate plot to destroy evidence and stage the scene of an accidental death, including by putting potentially contaminated clothes in the washing machine and Butler taking their dog for a walk.

The judge said Butler’s “breathtakingly deceitful” actions in covering up the murder had robbed his daughter of her dignity.

And he told Gray: "You played your full part in the grotesque charade that was the 999 call whilst subjecting your dead daughter to the indignity of pointless CPR when you well knew that she had been dead for over two hours.

"It may be that you were exceptionally naive and stupid to believe him, but you still had to carry out the plan and you did so with total commitment and you have continued to so in this court by lying to the jury about matters you well knew were not true."