A successful businessman has been jailed for seven years after ‘punishing’ his ex-wife for leaving him by attacking her with a hammer and screwdriver.
Alec Butt, 71, was sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, while serving the last third with a driver’s license.
The judge rejected Butt’s allegation that he had acted in self-defense, as he was found guilty of grievous bodily harm against his ex-wife Anna Butt.
The trial only took place in March 2021, after a postponement due to coronavirus. When it was delayed, Anna said she felt “as if the world was collapsing around me” as she “struggled to cope with the unknown.”
Anna has released shocking footage of the injuries she sustained after her ex-husband assaulted her – and has urged other victims of domestic violence to speak up.
Alec Butt, 71, (above) was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Monday to seven years and nine months in prison after being found guilty of grievous bodily harm against ex-wife Anna Butt
Butt, then from Rylestone Grove in Westbury-on-Trym, hid behind trash cans at his ex-wife’s workplace in Whiteladies Road, Clifton, wearing a hoodie and mask, shortly after 5pm on December 28, 2019.
Butt covered his face to hide his identity, pushed his children’s mother against a wall, and used a hammer and screwdriver to inflict significant injuries to her head, arms, and hands. He also put his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming.
A witness called the police, prompting Butt to flee the scene. He was Arrested about 90 minutes later, sat in his car, in a parking lot near Cribbs Causeway.
His wife was taken to hospital with a head injury and, although she made a full recovery from the physical wounds, the attack had a serious psychological impact.
Butt had been “ tormented in an unfurnished house, fueled by anger and resentment ” over his ex-wife’s new relationship with what he called “ the handyman, ” the court heard Monday.
In her personal statement, Anna Butt, who had been married to Butt for 18 years, said she was “ absolutely terrified ” during the attack and added that she thought she was going to die in the parking lot.
She continued: “I remember seeing the faces of my children in front of my eyes throughout the incident, as well as my parents. When I pulled down his hood, it confirmed what I already knew.
‘We had been married for 18 years and I was really worried he would do something like that, as I reported to the police in 2018. But to see him really go through with this was so shocking. ‘
In her statement, Anna said it was ‘difficult’ to tell her then 10-year-old twin girls that ‘their father did that to their mother’.
Anna has released shocking footage of the injuries (above) she sustained after her ex-husband attacked her – urging other domestic violence victims to speak up
She continued: “I had to tell them because I honestly believed he would harm them to hurt me. I had to protect my children and they had to understand why. ‘
The court heard a long list of ways Anna has changed her life for fear her former husband will attack her, including discussing an escape plan from the house with her children.
She added: ‘I park my car right up against the garage in case anyone is hiding from the recesses.
“I discussed an escape plan with my kids in case something happens. I was convinced he would hire someone to finish what he started.
‘I don’t feel comfortable in my backyard. I feel trapped in my house for fear of what might happen.
‘I take my personal alarm clock everywhere, even when I take out the trash cans. I sleep with it next to me and typed 999 before going to bed so I just have to unlock it.
‘I never leave the windows on the ground floor open. If I stop at traffic lights, I have to close the window.
‘I can no longer have groceries delivered to my house because I am afraid of having a stranger in my house.
‘I am so tense. I don’t feel like I can walk the streets confidently. When someone looks at me, I panic. There are days when my anxiety is so high that I can’t leave the house.
‘Because my fear is so bad at times, I hate it when my daughters, who are just children, have to deal with this. I just want them to feel safe and unafraid. ‘
She said she had nightmares where Butt “ filled her ” with anxiety for three months, taking in a tenant after Butt stopped paying full child support, making her feel “ safer. ”
Her ex-husband was released after the offense and allowed to visit the greater Bristol area on certain days, with an exclusion zone around Anna’s house.
Butt continued to deny responsibility for the attack, despite the overwhelming evidence gathered by police. He was found guilty by jurors in March after a trial.
On Monday, Butt, whose twin daughters are now 12 years old, wore a black face mask and a navy blue sweater over a blue and white striped shirt in court.
Paul Mendelle, extenuatingly, accepted that his client’s bloodied ski jacket had been found in his car, but argued that Butt had hidden no evidence and that there was “ no evidence to any criminal standard that he had thrown a piece of clothing. ”
Mr. Mendelle argued that Anna had no permanent psychological trauma and noted that she had not taken up a doctor’s suggestion that she could use medication.
The lawyer described the crime as “very isolated” and said his client saw the damage caused and expressed regret.
According to Mr. Mendelle, Butt said of his ex-wife’s fear, “I don’t want her to feel that at all.”
Butt, who has been taking antidepressants since the crime, is concerned about continuing to run his business from prison, the court heard.
Judge James Patrick handed over the verdict, saying, “You were upset about Mrs. Butt’s decision to divorce you.
Butt pushed Anna against a wall and used a hammer and screwdriver to inflict significant injuries on her head, arms and hands (above) shortly after 5:00 p.m. on December 28, 2019
“You punished her for that decision, confiscated her car, and threatened to take her credit card.
‘In December 2019, you rented a large but unfurnished house close to the family home. At the same time, she told you that she had formed a relationship with, as you put it, “the handyman.” ‘
This anger led Butt to “devise a plot” to violently attack his ex-wife, the judge continued.
“I’m sure you intended to hurt her badly,” he said. “This is evident from the previous threats you had made.
After discovering her work pattern over the Christmas season, you decided to attack her on December 28, knowing she would be on the job.
“You changed from your usual smart clothes into a hoodie and mask, and armed yourself with a hammer and screwdriver.”
The judge dismissed Bip’s claim that he had acted in self-defense and told him, “You told lie after lie in your evidence before the jury, but the jury saw through you.”
The judge also said he was sure Butt’s business would make it without him. Butt has to pay an additional fee of £ 181 for victim support.
He added, “I’m sure you’re sorry, but I’m equally sure you’re most sorry about the situation you’ve placed yourself in.”
The suspect has no previous convictions for violent crimes. He has one offense under the influence of alcohol.
Judge James Patrick jailed Butt for seven years and nine months and dismissed Butt’s claim that he was acting in self-defense. He is ready to serve the last third of his prison sentence with a permit.
PC Nina Foster, the officer in the case, said: “It is hard to put into words how courageous Anna and all her family have been to get us to this position.
To say that today’s conviction marks the end of this chapter for them would be down to trivializing the seriousness of what happened.
But we hope it gives them some comfort that this dangerous man is safely behind bars.
The pictures of the injuries Anna sustained will shock and appeal to people. But the mental and emotional scars that domestic violence causes are often hidden and yet can be both more painful and long-lasting.
Alec Butt is a violent abuser. His terrifying actions are inexcusable and have rightly been sent to prison.
We hope that today’s result and Anna’s courage will encourage other victims to contact the police or seek support from a trusted friend or family member. You will be believed and we can help ensure your safety. ‘
Domestic violence can be reported at 101, or 999 if it is an emergency. If you are calling and feel you cannot speak safely, dial 55 and the operator will transfer your call to the police.
If you are a victim or know someone you suspect may be, please visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org for advice and support.