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Murder or Manslaughter
Today, it is unlikely that Ruth Ellis would be convicted of the murder of David Blakely. The Homicide Act, 1957, restricted to a few the crimes carrying the death penalty, and introduced a defence of ‘diminished responsibility’, which would have saved her from the hangman. But in 1955 a reduced charge of manslaughter could only be brought by acting in ‘self defence’, hardly appropriate, you might think, when Ruth Ellis shot a man who did not know she was there at the time.
But then, Ruth offered no defence. She admitted killing Blakely; she knew she could hang. The jury had no choice but to return a ‘guilty’ verdict, and the judge had no choice but to sentence her to death. Someone else, the Home Secretary, had a choice, and thousands signed a petition for Ruth to be spared. But there was no reprieve, and on 13th July, 1955, Ruth Ellis was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint.