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 FLASHBACK 1955

Ruth's grim claim to fame

RUTH Ellis holds a grim claim to fame in the annals of crime - she was the last woman to be hanged in Britain.
On July 13 1955 Ruth walked to the gallows to become the 15th woman hanged in England in the 20th century. It was a sentence which was to haunt the judicial system for decades to follow.
Born in Rhyl in 1927, Ruth had worked as a waitress and dance band singer.
But with two small children to keep she turned to protitution and the Lopndon night club scene where she became a hostess in Soho during which time she met and embarked on an affair with, among others, a motor racing driver called David Blakely.
But Blakely tired of her and tried to avoid her. That angered Ruth who caused a disturbance outside a flat in Hampstead where he was staying with friends. He ignored her pleas for him to talk to her.
Two days later her anger finally overcame her. It was on Easter Sunday at about 9pm that Ruth went into the criminal history books.
It was than that she spotted Blakely through the window of the Magdala Tavern, a pub on the edge of Hampstead Heath. She watched - and waited.
When Blakely left, ignoring Ruth she took a loaded revolver - a .38 Smith and Wesson - from her handbag and fired two shots at at him. He staggered and tried to run, but there was another shot and he fell face down.
Ruth fired again and stepped towards his twitching body firing a final shot at point blank range.
Ruth then tried to kill herself holding the gun to her head and pulling the trigger. But the revolver jammed. She lowered the gun and again pulled the trigger. The bullet hit a paving stone and ricocheted off the ground striking the hand of a passer-by.
In the pub an off-duty policeman - PC 389 Alan Thompson - was having an off duty drink when someone rushed in shouting: "A bloke's been shot outside!
He walked onto the street, approaching Ruth who still held the gun. "Will you please arrest me?" she asked. He did.
Ruth's trial began at the Old Bailey on June 20, 1955.. The following day the jury took 14 minutes to find her guilty and she was sentenced to death. The sentence triggered a storm of protest with petitions being sent to the Home Office.
Ruth Ellis was found guilty of murder and was hanged in Holloway prison. She was then buried in the prison's graveyard.
But in 1971 her remains were exhumed and re-buried at St Mary's Church, Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Written by The Editor - 18/06/2001 20:25:12

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