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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Ben Butler convicted of murdering his daughter


Ben Butler, aged 36, was convicted today at the Central Criminal Court for the murder of his six-year-old daughter Ellie on 28 October 2013.

Malcolm McHaffie, CPS London Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: "Six-year-old Ellie Butler was murdered in her home, where she should have felt safe, by her violent father who should have loved and protected her.

"The CPS presented evidence of Ben Butler's contempt for his daughter and his aggressive nature and volatile temper through text messages and diary entries.

"We may never know exactly what happened in the last few hours of Ellie's life but the CPS built a strong case to show that her death was the result of deliberate violence by Butler.

"Butler and his partner and Ellie's mother, Jennie Gray, did all they could to try to divert the police investigation away from any suspicion of Butler. However, the Crown's expert medical evidence showed that Ellie's catastrophic head injuries could not have been the result of an accident, but must have been deliberately inflicted.

"This was a complex and challenging case which involved a thorough police investigation and was clearly and carefully presented to the court by the CPS. Their hard work and dedication has helped secure justice for Ellie."

Background information

Ben Butler was convicted together with his partner and Ellie's mother, Jennie Gray, of child cruelty for failing to seek medical attention for a fractured shoulder which Ellie had suffered some weeks before her death. Gray had previously pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice for helping Butler to try to mislead police after the crime.

Ellie was found dead in her bedroom on 28 October 2013. Her parents, Butler and Gray, called the emergency services and claimed that they had just found Ellie lying unresponsive in her room. The clear and intended implication of what they each said then and later, and of the scene that was presented to the paramedics and to the police later, was that Ellie had been the victim of a tragic accident at some point, discovered by them moments before they rang 999. However, evidence showed that Ellie has suffered catastrophic injures at least two hours before the call to the emergency services. Gray rushed home from work following a call from Butler, arriving home an hour before the emergency call was made. In this time Butler and Gray both tried to dispose of or conceal any evidence that would implicate Butler in Ellie's death.


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk and visit our official News Brief -
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  4. At 31 March 2015 we employed a workforce of approximately 5,895 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2,255 prosecutors and 3,288 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  5. The CPS, together with police representatives (formerly ACPO) and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.