Ruth Ellis was born in Rhyl, Wales, but was brought up in Manchester. She
worked as a waitress and had been a singer.
When she was seventeen she fell in love with an American airman, who was
subsequently killed in battle in 1944. She later gave birth to his son.
In 1950 she married a dentist, George Ellis, and had
another child, this time a daughter, Georgina.
She was divorced not long afterwards on the grounds of mental cruelty. Needing to
look after two small children, she started to dye her hair blonde and became a club-manageress and
prostitute. Working in London Clubs, this is where she met
racing driver, David Blakely in 1953.
Also in 1953 she had an abortion,
Blakely offered to marry her, she refused, but she could not get rid of him.
She started an affair with Desmond Cussen,
a friend of Blakely, and for almost a year, managed to keep them both satisfied
even though they each knew about the other.
Blakely was not happy with the arrangement and started to get jealous. He
started to beat Ruth on a regular basis, giving her a black eye and a broken ankle at various times.
Blakely started seeing other women and came home one night with love bites on his back. Ruth threw him out. He was back again the next day and offering marriage
Wednesday 6th April 1955, Blakely
carried on seeing other women, and on this day told Ruth that he had to
go and visit a mechanic Ruth was suspicious and followed him to a flat in Hampstead.
There was no response to her knocking at
the door but she heard a woman’s laughter from inside the
flat. The next day she returned to the flat in Hampstead
and kept watch, Blakely emerged with his arm around a pretty, young girl.
Sunday 10th April 1955 (Easter
Sunday) , Ruth returned to Hampstead, getting new
boyfriend Cussen to drive her, arriving near the Magdala
public house about 9.30pm. As she arrived Blakely came
out from the pub with a friend.
Ruth reached Blakely just as he got to the driver’s door of their car. He saw her and started to run in front of the car. Ruth took a
.38 calibre gun out of her handbag and fired at Blakely, who was crouching in front of the car trying to hide. Ruth ran
over to him and emptied the gun into his crouching body.
Drinkers came out of the pub, one being an off duty
She was taken to Hampstead police station
where she made a detailed confession.
Monday 20th June 1955. Her trial
began at the Old Bailey's court number one. She pleaded not guilty.
The jury took fifteen minutes to find Ruth Ellis guilty, she was sentenced to death.
Wednesday 13th July 1955 at 9am prisoner 9656, Ruth Ellis was
taken to the gallows in Holloway Prison. She drank a glass of brandy and was led to the trap by executioner
She was the last woman to be hanged in
8th February 2002 an appeal was lodged with the Court of appeal. It was claimed that Ruth has suffered post-miscarriage depression, that her defence team were negligent and that she was persuaded to commit the crime by Desmond Cussen. The appeal asked that the
murder conviction be changed to that of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, and that the prosecution and Judges at the time had
misinterpreted the law.
The appeal was heard on 16th September 2003. The appeal was rejected. The court stated that as diminished responsibility had not been introduced as a defence to manslaughter until the 1957 homicide act, this element was not available to the Judge at the time, also that provocation would need to be proved, but, provocation could only be used if, she had been under duress immediately prior to the shooting, not at a much earlier time.