Mother inflicted dozens of wounds on child

| 08/03/2016 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tamara Butler inflicted dozens and dozens of stab wounds on her six-year-old daughter, Bethany Butler, when she killed her in October 2014, the crown said Monday as the trial of the 39-year-old woman opened. Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards QC revealed details of events leading up to the gruesome discovery of Bethany’s body in a car on the Queens Highway in East End but made no mention of her mother’s mental health issues.

Butler has pleaded not guilty to murder, despite the overwhelming evidence that she was the person who killed Bethany, and it is understood that her defence is based on diminished responsibility.

As she opened the murder case, Richards described the sequence of events leading to Bethany’s death. She spoke of the discovery of the child and her mother, the crime scene, DNA evidence and the autopsy findings, without mentioning the mental state Butler was in at the time of the crime.

During the first morning of the trial, presided over by visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm, without a jury, Richards revealed how police officers had come across Tamara Butler and her SUV in East End at around 4am before finding her a second time and discovering Bethany’s body. She told the court that when officers then went to the family home in Savannah, the blood found there indicated that the child had been killed as a result of multiple stab and puncture wounds at that house.

The DPP said that on the night before the killing, Tamara had packed up both her own and her daughter’s possessions, shaved her head and later her daughter’s head before the murder, and afterwards headed out towards East End with her child’s body.

The police officers who found Butler and her daughter told the court how they were on patrol in East End on Monday 27 October 2014 when they first came across Tamara in bushes stuck in the ironshore off the Queen’s Highway. She had blood on her hands, injuries to her legs, was barefooted and was dressed only in a bathrobe and slip. After the officers asked if she needed help she told them she was fine. When she freed herself from the rocks she got back in her car and drove away, after telling the officers she was Tamara Butler.

Suspicious of her behaviour and concerned about her injuries, the officers called in a report to the critical incident manager, who that night happened to be Tamara Butler’s husband, Lenford Butler, who was a sergeant with the RCIPS.

Learning that there could be a problem, they began searching for Butler again with another police unit, but it took another hour and a half before the officers found Butler’s car, this time parked in a side road less than a mile away from where they had first seen her. This time, shortly after arriving, the officers discovered the body of Bethany in the passenger seat of the car wrapped in a blue comforter.

After alerting the emergency services, the officers waited at the scene until first light before they began looking for Tamara Butler. They found her as they approached the shoreline down on the beach, wet and covered in sand, staring out to sea.

When called by named she came towards the police officers. The police witnesses said that although she told a police officer she did not have to come, when asked, she did and offered no resistance when she was handcuffed and placed in an ambulance and taken to hospital. Asked about her car, she seemed not to understand and said nothing to the officers other than to tell them she was not taking any medication.

During what was at times emotional testimony, Lenford Butler recounted for the court the events of the night before his child was killed as well as the history of his wife’s erratic behaviour, which he said had started when she lost her job working for the RCIPS as a communications officer in 2011.

He said that on the night before Bethany died, his wife had packed all of her and her daughter’s possessions and despite his questioning about what she was doing, she kept saying there was nothing to worry about, a comment he said she often made, even when it was clear something was the matter.

In his evidence he explained how Bethany alerted him that evening to the fact that his wife had shaved her head and eyebrows. When he was getting ready to leave for his shift at George Town Police Station he said he heard Bethany cry out and shout, ‘No!” When he came out of the bathroom he found Bethany hiding in the closet and she told him her mother was trying to shave her head as well. He spoke to his wife but got the same response about not worrying about anything.

Lenford Butler broke down as he told the court that Bethany had asked him if she could go to work with him because she was worried her mother would continue to try and shave her head. Explaining to her that she couldn’t, he gave her his phone, which he placed on speed dial to the police station and said she could lock the bedroom door. He then left to go to work.

Given his concerns, halfway through his shift he headed back to the house to check on his wife and daughter but having almost reached their Savannah home, he realised he had forgotten his house keys and turned back to George Town. As he headed back, the first report about Tamara being sighted in East End came in. Once at the station, he quickly collected his keys and headed home again.

When he arrived there was no sign of the family car and when he went through the house calling for “Beth”, there was no response. The door to the room he had left her in was broken but there was no sign of her in that room, so he hunted for her in every other room and every closet in the house calling her name, but there was no sign. When he got down on the floor and looked under a bed, he saw the huge pool of blood.

Butler revealed that he and his wife had had a happy relationship but after she lost her job her behaviour changed and she began suspecting people were reading her emails, listening to her phone calls or following her. She began accusing him of having affairs and even repeated the allegations into the microphone to the whole congregation of the Bodden Town Seventh Day Adventist, where they had both been regular and active worshippers.

He described how she began cursing at him,and before she stopped attending the church completely, she began to shun their friends in the congregation and would not touch people or allow people to touch her when they greeted. Several turbulent years passed in which she left him a number of times before she left Cayman for the Turks and Caicos Islands, where the couple had first met.

After some time away she said she wanted to come back to live with him and reunite the family. She returned at the start of 2014 and things were better, Butler told the court, but there were still issues between the couple. He described how she had filed a police report for sexual assault after a game of tag started by their daughter in the garden when he had tapped his wife on the backside. As a result, they were no longer sharing a bed, he said.

In the months and weeks directly before the murder there was nothing specifically unusual, he said, but she continued to say there was nothing to worry about, even though he felt there was.

Butler revealed that throughout the years from 2011 he had sought help and counselling and it had been recommended that Tamara see a psychiatrist, but she had always said there was nothing to worry about and would not go. Except for one isolated occasion, she had never been violent towards him, he said, and she was utterly devoted to Bethany and they did everything together. He said he never had the slightest inclination that his wife would ever hurt his daughter and even on that night he had no reason to believe that it was not safe to leave her alone with her mother.

Before the night Tamara had been proud of her hair and taken great care of it, frequently attending the hair salon, and had taken the same care of Bethany’s hair as well, Lenford Butler said.

The case continues.

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