REAL LIFE

Evil dad’s sick revenge: He murdered his girl to punish his ex-wife

So tragic

Quinn Butt was an  adorable little girl. With dark eyes and blonde hair, she charmed everyone who knew her.

Just five years old, she was at that magical age when the world is full of wonder.

She was happy, healthy, boisterous and silly – a tomboy and a girlie-girl rolled into one.

Quinn’s mother, Andrea Gosse, doted on her.

Sadly, Andrea and Quinn’s father, Trent Butt, were going through a tense divorce after their two-year marriage.

They shared custody of Quinn, and on April 23, 2016, the little girl was staying with her dad.

In the evening, Trent cooked dinner while Quinn had a bath. Later, they watched a film, and when she grew tired, Trent tucked his sleepy daughter into bed.

Facebook
Trent with his daughter (Credit: Facebook)

But, in the early hours of the following morning, one of Trent’s neighbours woke up to a strange sound – Popping and banging.

At first, he thought it was thunder. But when he looked outside, he realised the sound was fire sweeping through Trent’s house.

The neighbour called the emergency services and frantically knocked on Trent’s door, but there was no response.

When the fire services reached the house, they burst through the door.

Upstairs, they found Quinn tucked up in bed in the master bedroom, next to her father. She was wearing a pink nightie and looked as though she was asleep.

Trent had a cut on his arm and there was blood on the floor, but firefighters could tell he was alive.

One of them carried Quinn out and placed her on the lawn. But the little girl was lifeless.

Despite frantic attempts to revive her, Quinn was pronounced dead at hospital.

Facebook
Andrea Gosse with little Quinn (Credit: Facebook)

While Andrea grieved for her only child, the police and fireys began to investigate the blaze.

They found a lighter and a utility knife on the bedside table next to where Quinn and Trent were discovered.

The sheets on the bed were covered in petrol and there was a petrol can in the living room.

The police realised the fire had been started deliberately. And, when they searched Trent’s truck, they found a note.

I have taken my daughter’s and my own life, it read.

However, a post-mortem examination couldn’t determine the cause of Quinn’s death.

Still, the doctor was clear on one thing – the little girl had died before the fire was started.

Trent survived, suffering several self-inflicted wounds. He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and arson.

In March this year, Trent Butt, 40, acknowledged he had killed his daughter before slashing his neck and wrist.

He admitted dousing the house in petrol and setting it alight with the two of them inside.

He pleaded guilty to arson – but pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

First-degree murder requires planning and premeditation, and Trent claimed Quinn’s death was neither.

But prosecutors argued that the father had devised a murder-suicide plan and killed his little girl in an effort to punish Andrea for the divorce.

Facebook
Andrea and Quinn (Credit: Facebook)

Trent told the court he’d suffered from depression, anxiety and social isolation as a result of his separation. He said he’d lost friends, and spoke of how he hadn’t been able to sleep or eat, or been able to concentrate at work.

Continuing, he said he didn’t remember doing anything to Quinn that fateful night.

Through tears, Trent said he remembered kneeling next to his daughter as she lay on the bed. He explained he gently shook her to try to rouse her.

But when she didn’t wake up, he realised that the little girl was dead.

‘I don’t remember doing anything to Quinn. I don’t know what happened,’ he told the courtroom. ‘Once I thought about it, I concluded that I must have suffocated her.’

Trent described how he picked up Quinn in his arms  and told her that he loved her. Then, he said, he decided to take his own life.

Yet the prosecution claimed that every detail of the events that took place that night had been meticulously planned.

Trent’s suicide note was read out to the court.Ten pages long, it spoke of his love for Quinn and his hatred for her mother.

Andrea, Quinn and I are dead because of you! it read. I hope you look in the mirror every day knowing that Quinn’s blood is on your hands.

The jury had to decide: Was Quinn’s murder planned all along, or was it a devastating crime of passion?

CBC Twitter
Trent Butt in court (Credit: CBC Twitter)

After just one day, they found Trent guilty.

Andrea and her loved ones, who were dressed in pink and purple in memory of their beloved little Quinn, hugged and cried. They thanked the prosecutors and the police officers involved in the investigation.

Trent was sentenced to life without a chance of parole for 25 years, for murdering his little girl.

‘Quite simply, the pain and suffering inflicted by your senseless actions are beyond measure,’ judge Justice Donald Burrage told him.

Trent is appealing his conviction and his fire-ravaged house has since been torn down.

But those who pass the empty plot will never forget the horrors of that night.

Nor will they forget the happy little girl who played innocently just hours before she was killed.

‘We’ve got a lot of healing to do,’ her heartbroken mum said.

Related stories