Ruth Ellis

Key points

  • Last woman to be executed in the UK
  • Desmond Cussen heavily involved
  • chose solicitor Bickford
  • after trial Ellis dismissed Bickford


10 April 1955 : Killed abusive partner David Blakeley.
10 June 1955 : Trial. Jury convict after 16 minutes deliberation. Mandatory death sentence.
12 July 1955 : Makes new statement to new solicitor Victor Miscon. Home Office refuses to take action.
13 July 1955 : Executed just after 9am,
Early 1970: Bickford states that Cussen told him in 1955 that Ellis lied at the trial. After a police investigation, no action regarding Cussen taken.
2003 : Criminal Cases Review Commission.refers case to Court of appeal which refuses to hear appeal, stating “On any view, Mrs Ellis had committed a serious criminal offence.”
2007 : Petition to Gordon Brown to reconsider and grant pardon.

The statement on 12 July 1955

  • Gun was provided by Cussen
  • Cussen drove her to the murder scene

Extract from

“Ruth visited him here frequently, but again, developed a phobia that George was having improper relationships with the staff and female patients. On one occasion, she became so inflamed, ranting and raving and screaming in coarse, uncouth language, she had to be forcibly restrained and sedated. Dr Rees, a psychiatrist who was looking after George, prescribed drugs for Ruth and from that point on until the day she killed David Blakley, she was under his care. It has always remained a mystery why her defence counsel at her trial did not call him to give evidence of her state of mind, and that fact that the legally prescribed sedatives, combined with alcohol, could have made her incapable of rational behaviour at the time she fired the fatal shots.”


  • Ineffective defense, solicitor chosen by Cussen [who may have provided gun and drove her to murder scene – not proven]
  • Ruth Ellis was convicted on the basis of her own perjured evidence
  • State assisted suicide
  • Domestic violence – type : Mutual violent control
  • Final “hesitation” ineffective – it was too late
  • Legally prescribed sedatives, combined with alcohol are the key



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