Ruth Ellis-the last
woman to be hung in the
Case Study: Ruth Ellis
Ruth Ellis was hung in
July, 1955 after being
found guilty of murdering
Ruth shot her boyfriend 5
times outside a public
house in north London.
The final shot was at point
You are the judge in Ruth’s
case. How would you punish
Ruth’s boyfriend, David Blakely Task 2:
was a violent and abusive partner, You are the judge
Ten days before the shooting he in Ruth’s case.
How would you
had punched a pregnant Ruth in
the stomach, causing her to
miscarry their baby. Has your answer
changed? If it
Ruth had been raped by her father has or has not
as a child. then explain why.
Ruth was addicted to Do you think that
losing her life was
On Wednesday, the 13th of July 1955 at
London's Holloway Prison, Ruth Ellis
secured her place in history becoming the
15th and last woman to be executed in
England and Wales in the 20th century. Her
case is memorable because she was
hanged, had she had been given a life
sentence she would have been forgotten in
a few weeks by most people
Ruth Ellis Last woman in UK to be executed.
•Ruth Ellis waits for former lover.
•Shoots him 6 times in front of witnesses.
•Arrested and immediately confesses.
•In court admits shooting but claims lover’s
previous behaviour had provoked her.
•Jury took only 23 minutes to find her guilty
Should Ruth have hanged? – No
• She was female and had 2 children
• Her lover had abused her.
• Had suffered miscarriage because of lover’s
violence, 10 days before.
• Previous week a woman was reprieved for
murder (Sarah Lloyd)
Should Ruth have hanged? – Yes
• Murder was planned and premeditated.
• Ruth admitted in court her intention was to kill.
• A bystander was injured in the shooting.
• Possessed gun and prepared to use it.
• She refused to appeal against her sentence.
Postscript to Ruth Ellis execution
The Home Office received 234
applications offering to act as
hangman or view her execution
according to Syd Dernley the
Crowds gather outside Holloway Prison for the execution
of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to receive the death penalty
in Britain, July 1955.
Who benefits from capital punishment? Is it a form of
deterrent or merely a public act of revenge? Ellis never
had any doubt that she should be executed for what she
did but would her case have been judged 'manslaughter' if
she was tried under today's judicial system?