Andrew Marr TV - Inside the Old Bailey TV - Watford Observer - Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook TV - Pip Granger - Justice Baroness Butler-Sloss - David Wilson - Ruth Ellis - Pathé News - Albert Pierrepoint - Rough Justice: Ruth Ellis: A Life for a Life TV - The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story TV - Crime & Punishment: A Timewatch TV - Inside Holloway: Women Behind Bars TV -
The Ruth Ellis case was a genuine watershed in British justice: hanging had been very popular in this country but what was done on that July morning to a young, traumatised, and abused woman horrified and disgusted millions of the Queen’s subjects. New Elizabethans With Andrew Marr I: Building a New Society, BBC 2020
An Old Bailey trial that saw the last woman in Britain executed for murder. It was a troubling case in which for some the law and justice seemed to be at odds. On 20th June 1955 a woman named Ruth Ellis left her cell at the Old Bailey on her way to Court 1. She was accused of murder. Inside the Old Bailey s1e6, Channel 5 2018
Life was never easy for Ruth Ellis. Having given birth to a son whose father turned out to be a married man, she later had a daughter to her husband, George Ellis, a drunkard. She then suffered a long and violent love-hate relationship with her racing-car boyfriend, David Blakely. And now, not long after she had miscarried his baby, he was ignoring her, choosing instead to drink with friends, including a woman known to have been his lover. Small wonder that Ruth was hurt, angry and frustrated, and that her tortured mind, possibly driven by alcohol and certainly by jealousy, sought retribution. But no-one, least of all Blakely himself, could have predicted that she would step from a doorway armed with a revolver to kill the man she loved.
It was Easter Sunday, 1955, and Ruth was 28 years old. Five shots she fired into David Blakely’s body, as he emerged from the Magdala Tavern, Hampstead, with a male friend. At point-blank range Blakely stood no chance. His killing, as murders go, was unremarkable. Several people witnessed the shooting, and Ruth Ellis never attempted to deny it. But the murder of David Blakely is remembered after so many years for one reason: that Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in England.
Should she have hanged? Was she guilty of murder, and not manslaughter, as she might have been? This woman acquired a gun, was driven to a place she believed her intended victim to be, where she shot him in cold blood, not once but five times – hardly a spontaneous deed or an act of self- defence, no matter that she had been the victim of so much violence at the hands – and fists – of the man she killed. Watford Observer library article
In 1955 a murder was committed outside this pub in Hampstead, London. The victim was David Blakely, and what made his killing so shocking was that his attacker had been his lover: Ruth Ellis. Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook: Ruth Ellis, CI 2011
Her name remains in the history books as the last woman to be hanged in Britain. ibid.
Ruth underwent several illegal abortions during her time working as a hostess. ibid.
She then turned the gun on herself, but the gun misfired. ibid.
I’ve got enormous sympathy for Ruth Ellis, because she just didn’t have the self-awareness to be able to drag herself out of the mire she had got herself in ... She let the hangman do it for her. Pip Granger
I think one problem was that she was dressed as a hostess I think in court. Justice Baroness Butler-Sloss
Her defence was pretty meagre to say the least ... There was quite a lot that didn’t come out in court that would have helped her. Professor David Wilson
It’s obvious: when I fired the gun I intended to kill him. Ruth Ellis
On June 21st Ruth Ellis was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey and sentenced to death in accordance with the law ... Ruth Ellis had to die ... Three questions remain: should a woman hang? Should anyone hang at all? Or should there be degrees of murder? Pathé News
I didn’t feel right in hanging this woman. Albert Pierrepoint, hangman, to Laurence Marks, screenwriter and author, re Ruth Ellis
Hampstead: Easter Sunday 1955: In cold blood Ruth Ellis had shot her lover, David Blakely, dead with a revolver. They’d been lovers for eighteen months. The law was clear: if Ruth Ellis was found guilty she would suffer the death penalty. Ruth Ellis’ case became a sensation. Rough Justice: Ruth Ellis: A Life for a Life, BBC 1999
A woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown: violently abused and sorely provoked she was then ill-served not only by the solicitor who took her case and by her Queen’s Counsel but also by the Home Secretary of the day: he disregarded the evidence which could have saved her. Ruth Ellis should not have suffered the hangman’s noose. ibid.
Ruth Ellis: She is known for being the last woman hanged in Britain … The shockwaves created by her case helped change the law. The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story I, BBC 2018
Ruth’s crime sounds like a scene from classic film noir. Right down to the Smith & Weston gun that she used. ibid.
She says that David hit her in the ear so hard that she went temporarily deaf. She also refers to an abortion or miscarriage that happened two to four weeks before the shooting. ibid.
Domestic violence was treated as a private affair rather than a legal matter. ibid.
These experts put Desmond at the scene. ibid.
They didn’t fully investigate Ruth’s motive or where she got the murder weapon. And they never interviewed her son Andrea who could have provided key information. The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story II
The appointment of Ruth’s solicitor … complex and shadowy. ibid.
The now defunct Women’s Sunday Mirror was the paper that bought and published Ruth’s story entitled My Love and Hate. ibid.
‘On two occasions David had nearly strangled me.’ ibid. Ruth
The miscarriage Ruth suffered after David punched her in the stomach. ibid.
14 minutes – that’s it? – and no recommendation to mercy? ibid.
She may have been suffering from mental illness. ibid.
In 1955 Ruth Ellis shot her lover to death and stood trial for murder. The decision to execute this twenty-eight year old, a mother of two children, fuelled what was already a fierce debate over capital punishment. Crime & Punishment: A Timewatch Guide, BBC 2019
Holloway was the largest women’s prison in Europe. For over 100 years it was synonymous with Britain’s most notorious female criminals: women whose crimes truly shocked the nation, like Ruth Ellis, who changed history. And Cynthia Payne who was sent down but who robbed the establishment. We uncover the scandals hidden away behind Holloway’s walls. Inside Holloway: Women Behind Bars, Channel 5 2020
Ruth Ellis: she had been charged with the murder of her lover, David Blakely … He was the latest in a long line of troubled relationships with men … Blakely was a violent and possessive man … Ruth Ellis was hanged. Ruth Ellis was buried in Holloway’s grounds, and her death triggered a national debate. ibid.