Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

RUTH ELLIS: THE LAST TO HANG

The Gathering Storm

Its a late day for regrets.

Eugene ONeil

Although David was livid at the thought of Ruth moving in with Desmond, she placated him by pointing out that at least she was breaking away from club life, the first step to a level of respectability -- something David had wanted her to do for months. She assured him that she would not sleep with Cussen, and between the 17th of December and February 5th, 1955, she and David stayed off and on at the Rodney Hotel in Kensington, registering as Mr and Mrs Blakely. To Desmond, she explained her nights away by saying she was visiting either girl friends or her daughter, Georgina, up north.

That Christmas, Ruth gave Desmond and David identical silver cigarette cases as presents. On December 25th, Ruth hosted a party at Cussens flat. Cussen was at a business party and did not arrive back at his flat until later in the evening. By then, David had turned up and he and Ruth had another furious row over Ruth leaving her son asleep in the flat while she and her guests had gone out clubbing. David railed at Ruth for being a tart and sleeping with Cussen; she in turn accused him of still having an affair with Carole Findlater.

Later that night, drunk as coots, they both made their way to Tanza Road, where in fact they found the Findlaters had gone off for the Christmas break to stay with friends at Brighton, and eventually Ruth and David collapsed drunk and exhausted in bed to sleep off their hangovers. Cussen, worried about Davids level of inebriation, had followed them across London. However, the patron saint of drunks had watched over them and David had somehow negotiated the journey without mishap. Cussen sat in his car, watching the house until it was almost nine in the evening. Then with a heavy heart he returned to Goodwood Court to look after Andy and the guests who were waiting for their hostess to return.

The next day, December 26th, Ruth returned to Desmond, explaining her night away by saying David had threatened to commit suicide and that was why she had been forced to spend the night with him.

David spent the day at the Brands Hatch racing circuit, driving The Emperor in its first race, The Kent Cup, and coming a respectable second. Early in the New Year, Ruth became suspicious that David was having another affair, this time in Penn, and had Cussen drive her across London to the dormitory suburb. There, she saw David leaving the home of a married woman, whose husband was away on a business trip. She was of course, older than David and very good-looking. It can be imagined just how this stirred up the anger and jealousy in Ruth. On the 8th of January, while staying at the Rodney Hotel, they became involved in another blazing row, brought to a head by Davids relationship with this other woman. He left for Penn, and when he had not contacted Ruth by January 10th, she sent him a telegram, which read:

Havent you got the guts to say goodbye to my face Ruth?

David got himself into a funk over this. Firstly he was concerned that the news would get around and create a local scandal. Then the fact that he was spending so much of his time courting this other woman might impact on his job. He was also terrified that Ruth might get some of her gangster friends to pay him a visit. Ruth had brought up this possibility on more than one occasion. Her job with Connelys clubs had brought her into touch with many London villains. He poured out all of his fear to Ant Findlater, telling him that he just wanted to get away from Ruth and never see her again.

However, repeating the same steps that had driven their actions throughout their relationship, by the 14th of January, they were back together in the Rodney Hotel. On the same day, Ruth got her divorce from George. It would be absolute in six weeks and there was now nothing to stop them marrying.

David must have surely felt he was being backed into a corner from which there was no escape.  However, their untenable pattern of quarrelling and passionate reconciliations continued, requiring the help of friends to help them patch up their differences. Ruth had Cussen drive her around so she could spy on David, and at the same time Cussen was checking on them. He knew by now that they were meeting at the Rodney, but seems to have been so infatuated with Ruth that he went along with their liaison.

On February 6th, there was a major bust up in Cussens flat. Desmond was away at the time. David claimed Ruth tried to stab him and called his friends, Clive Gunnell and Ant, to the rescue. When the men arrived, they found Ruth with a black eye, covered in bruises and limping. David also had a black eye and was also limping. It must have been a whopper of a scrap. She had taken Davids car keys and would not let him go, at one time sitting in his car to prevent him leaving, and then lying in the road in front of Gunnells car, to prevent them escaping that way. Eventually, when she had exhausted all of her energy, and sobered up, the three men drove off and Ruth returned to Cussens flat.

Over the next twenty-four hours, Ruth had Desmond drive her around while she tried to track down David. They went to the Findlaters flat in Hampstead and then followed him down to the Magdala pub, a favourite drinking spot for David and his friends. They drove over to an address near Euston Station, trying to trace another woman David had mentioned to Ruth in one of their drunken brawls, and then to Penn, where Desmond confronted David, whose car they saw parked outside a pub in Gerrards Cross. Faced with the strong likelihood of a beating by Desmond, David retreated, colours flying, and headed back to London.

That afternoon, Ruth received a bunch of red carnations with a card that said, Sorry darling, I love you, David. Its hard to know whether the flowers came as an emissary of love or fear.

They met up later that night. David explained his violence was because of his frustration over Ruth sharing accommodation with Desmond.  Ruth convinced David they should move into their own flat, saying she could borrow the rent money from a friend. The friend of course, turned out to be Desmond, the ever-willing sponge waiting to be squeezed yet again. In return for his financial help, Ruth agreed to keep in touch, periodically cook for him, and so she kept a spare set of keys to Goodwood Court.

On February 9th, Ruth leased a flat at 44 Egerton Gardens, a street of high, red brick buildings across from the Brompton Oratory in Kensington, and she and David moved in as Mr & Mrs Ellis. On February 22nd, David and Ruth were rowing again over his infatuation with the married woman at Penn, and yet again Ruth finished up with a black eye and severe bruising across her shoulders.

Early in March, Ruth, David and Desmond attended the British Racing Drivers Club dinner dance that was held in the Hyde Park Hotel. Ruth alternated the night, dancing with David and Desmond. In the early hours of the morning, Ruth retired to her flat in a drunken stupor and when she woke up, David was sleeping beside her. She kicked him out of the flat, and for the next week spent most of her free time with Desmond. She had started a modelling course, paid for by Desmond, who also financed a set of new clothes, and he drove her to the modelling school each morning and then picked her up, when her course was over.

Ruth had now discovered that she was pregnant. The identity of the father was hard to determine; it could easily been any of a number of men, but Blakely and Cussen must have been the prime contenders.

By the end of March, Ruth had miscarried and had an abortion. She later claims this was exacerbated by yet another fight she had with David. This time, he had smacked her in the face with a clenched fist and then struck her a severe blow in the stomach. The Findlaters, particularly Carole, did not believe that David was necessarily the father. Ruth had after all been living with Desmond Cussen as well as sleeping with David.

David had entered the Emperor in a race meeting on April 2nd at Oulton Park near Chester. On Thursday March 31st, David, Ant and Ruth drove north to Cheshire. Ruth and David booked into a hotel as Mr & Mrs Blakely. David never got to race his car, as it broke down during a practice lap, and was a write-off for the main meeting.

On the Saturday night, David and Ruth had a party at their hotel, along with Ant and his wife Carole, who had come up on the Friday evening to watch the racing. It was a pretty miserable night, and Carole Findlater later recalled that Ruth acted like the Snow Queen. David had bitched and moaned continually since his car had broken down, levering most of the blame on Ruth telling her, Its all your fault, you jinxed me. Ruth had responded by saying, Ill stand so much from you David, you cannot go on walking over me forever. He had replied, Youll stand it because you love me.

Ruth, dejected, and ill from a cold she had caught, returned with the party to London on the Sunday night. She was sick and tired, not just from the cold but also she was still suffering the effects of her abortion. On the Monday, Desmond came to see her at her flat in Egerton Gardens. She was feverish and had a temperature of 104 degrees; he insisted she stay in bed, while he went to pick up Andy from his school and bring him back to London for the Easter holidays.

Later Ruth recollected, I used to be good company and fun to be with. David had turned me into a surly, miserable woman. I was growing to loathe him, he was so conceited and said all women loved him. He was so much in love with himself.

And so began the decisive week that would bring all the loose ends together and finally resolve the end of the affair between Ruth Ellis and David Blakely.

 

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