The Sheffield doctor with little-known links to Ruth Ellis - the last woman hanged in England

A Sheffield doctor gave his young lover medication who later had an abortion - and would die from blood poisoning a few days later.

Saturday, 13th June 2020, 11:27 am

And while the case against Dr John Blakely, 49, of School Road, Crookes, was thrown out by Sheffield Magistrates in February, 1934, the well-respected physician also has links to one of Britain’s most controversial killings.

A native Scot, Dr Blakely had set up his practice shortly after arriving in Sheffield at the end of the First World War and was well-liked and respected by his patients.

Described as ‘tall, dark and mysterious’, he was known to be kindly to his patients, letting them pay their bills at sixpence a week if ever they fell on hard times.

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Dr John Blakely's son David was murdered by Ruth Ellis in 1955.

But in around 1932 the doctor - who was married with four children - took a young lover and moved her into a room in a shared house in Holme Lane, where he could keep their intimacy a secret.

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The disapproving parents of Phyllis Staton, 25, had not seen their daughter for several weeks after she had left them a note saying that she was moving out.

The next time they saw her was in late February when she fell through the back door of their home in a serious condition and saw Dr Blakely driving away.

A headline covering the killing in 1934

A doctor was called but Phyllis, an unemployed waitress, was put to bed with a raging temperature nd was transferred to hospital the following day, where she died from septicemia.

Br Blakely was arrested and charged with murder, with police claiming he had procured some substance to aid her having an abortion.

When the case came before magistrates, the prosecution claimed Dr Blakely had injected the substance into the muscle in her arm at Holme Lane and assisted with the abortion. But they also stated that, due to his skill with medicine, it would be highly unlikely that they would find any scientific evidence linking the doctor to the crime.

When interviewed by police, Dr Blakely had admitted giving the girl the drugs - which were found in a cupboard at Holmes Road - but denied carrying out the termination.

He admitted to police that he had been intimate with Phyllis but said that she went with other men as well, but singled him out because he was wealthier.

But magistrates concluded that the evidence against the doctor was too thin to secure a conviction, and threw the case out.

While the affair was the straw that broke his 20-plus year marriage - his wife Annie finally divorcing him for adultery in 1940 - he kept his good standing within the city and his patients stayed loyal to him.

But jump forward to Easter Sunday 1955, Br Blakely’s youngest son David - who had gone on to become a racing driver - was gunned down outside the Magdala pub, in Hampstead, London by his lover Ruth Ellis - the last woman in England to be hanged.

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