NIGHT CLUB hostess and model Ruth Ellis (28) was the last woman to be hanged in England in July 1955 after she was found guilty of shooting dead her racing driver boyfriend David Blakely (24) near a pub in Hampstead, North London.
The case was straight forward and she admitted her guilt. However, new evidence seen in a BBC 4 programme – The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime – appears to show a taxi-owning lover may have played a role in the killing. And as an accessory, could possibly have saved Ellis from the hangman’s noose at Holloway prison.
A newly-discovered tape recording of Ellis’s son, Andre Neilson, (10 years old at the time of his mother’s death), suggested his mother had an accomplice on the day of the shooting, allegedly Desmond Cussen (32).
Cussen was Ellis’s new lover and Neilson said his mother had gone with someone in a taxi to confront Blakely in North London. Cussen owned a London taxi and is also alleged to have owned a gun and possibly given it to Ellis.
Neither the taxi or the driver were traced in time for the trial of Ellis, and Neilson’s recording in 1982, shortly before he committed suicide, appears to point the finger at Cussen, as at least an accessory, if not an accomplice.
American film-maker, Gillian Pachter, researched the documentary with two former Metropolitan Police detectives and said: “Ruth’s son has never been a part of how anybody looked at her case.
“Here is a witness, a key witness, who was not asked for what he knew. But, when you listen to him, he backs up the fact of Cussen’s involvement in the murder of David Blakely.”
The day before her execution, Ellis told her solicitor that Cussen had allegedly given her the murder weapon but the Home Office refused a last minute reprieve and ordered that: “The law must take its course.”
The BBC4 programme claimed that Neilson’s tape recording corroborated this allegation and appeared to throw weight behind a theory that Cussen wanted Blakely dead so that Ellis would forget her infatuation for her former lover. Cussen always denied giving Ellis the gun which killed Blakely and died in 1991 after emigrating to Australia. Ellis’s sister Monica launched a posthumous appeal in 2003 but the Appeal Court ruled that Ellis had been rightly convicted of murder under the law at the time of the killing.