Ruth Ellis and tragedy of little boy left behind when UK’s last woman was hanged

She was the stunning nightclub hostess and he was the dashing racing driver who was engaged to another woman.

After enduring relentless domestic violence and abuse at the hands of David Blakley, Ruth Ellis got herself a gun and shot her lover dead.

She was immediately arrested by an off-duty policeman and just two months after she killed Blakley Ellis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

Aged just 28 the mother-of-two became the last woman ever hanged in Britain on July 13, 1955.

Ellis was described in newspaper reports at the time as "the calmest woman who ever went to the gallows".

The case caused mass revulsion was is widely believed to be one of the contributing factors to the abolition of the death penalty in the UK less than 10 years later.

But did a stunning platinum blonde end up on the gallows and leave behind such a devastating legacy.

Ellis was born in Rhyl, Wales, before moving to Basingstoke with her family when she was a child.

At 17, Ellis found herself pregnant to a Canadian soldier, who stopped sending money to support his son after a few years and the child went to live with his grandmother.

Desperate to support hersef, Ellis started work as a nude model and eventually became a nightclub hostess.

She again found herself pregnant at 23 by one of the customers in the nightclub after she started supplementing her income with prostitution.

Ellis made the decision to termiate the pregnancy illegally and later that year married divorced dentist, George Ellis.

He was 41 and a violent alcoholic who was convinced she was cheating on him.

Despite leaving him on numerous occasions, Ellis always returned and had the couple's daughter Georgina, in 1951.

But he husband refused to accept the baby girl was his and the couple eventually divorced.

Ellis returned to her parents house and once again used sex to make ends meet.

Three years later Ellis was back in London, this time as manager of the Little Club in Knightsbridge.

It was then that she began her relationship with Blakley and he moved her into a flat, despite being engaged to another woman.

But Ellis was soon pregnant again and had a second illegal abortion before beginnng a relationship with former RAF pilot, Desmond Cussen.

Then things took another dark turn in her life – she was sacked from the Little Club and moved in with Cussen but was still seeing Blakley.

The coupe's relationship was becoming inceasingly volatile as jealousy at each other's involvement with other people tore away at both of them

Blakley offered to marry Ellis and she agreed but still the violence continued.

She suffered a miscarriage after falling pregnant for a fifth time – it was shortly after Blakley had punched her in the stomach.

Then on easter Sunday, 1955, things reached a deadly boiling point.

Ellis went to Hampstead in search of Blakley but when she arrived at the friends' flat where he was, he sped off.

Ellis followed him to the Magdala pub and waited for him outside.

When he emerged at 9:30pm with his friend Clive Gunnell she shouted to him and when he ignored her she pulled a Smith & Wesson out of her handbag and opened fire.

The first missed and he tried to flee.

But the second bullet found his mark and he collapsed onto the street.

Ellis shot him three more times while standing over his body.

She then turned to his friend and calmly said "Will you call the police, Clive?"

Ellis gave police a full confession and less than two months later found herself in the dock of the Old Bailey.

When asked what she had intended to do when she pulled the gun from her handbag, Ellis replied "it's obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him".

It was the statement that sealed her fate and she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

The verdict caused a public outcry with 50,000 people signing a petition calling for the death penalty to be reprived.

It fell on deaf ears and Ellis was executed at Holloway Prison on July 13.

She left behind her two young children, including her 11-year-old son, who was away at boarding school when she was hanged.

Following her death the Observerat the time wrote: 'Consider the task of explaining to the late Mrs Ruth Ellis's 11-year-old son, now at a boarding school, what has happened.

"This boy, who is also fatherless, has had something done to him that is so brutal it is difficult to imagine.

"We should realise it is we who have done it."

Source: Read Full Article