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18 November 1999
by IAN SHARP
An estranged husband kept his wife shackled in the back of a van ‘like an animal’ for four days after forcing her to take an overdose of antidepressant drugs, a court heard yesterday. Susan Ellis, 38, was manacled hand and foot after being kidnapped at gunpoint by her husband William Ellis, the High Court in Glasgow was told. Her ordeal only ended when she threw herself out of the van on to a slip road as armed police chased Ellis along the M8 motorway at Whitburn, West Lothian.
The court heard how Mrs Ellis asked her husband if he intended to murder her after he threatened her with a revolver on a number of occasions. Advocate depute Philip Brodie told the court how she had married Ellis in December l997 after living with him for ten years, but they had separated in February. Mr Brodie said four months later Ellis went back to the house at Killin Court, Coatbridge, in the early hours of the morning and let himself in with a key. ‘Mrs McLean woke to find Ellis standing over her with a handgun. ‘He ordered her to get dressed and forced her to take 20 antidepressant tables,’ said Mr Brodie. ‘Later she woke up in the back of Ellis’s small van which had blacked out rear windows and a curtain blocking the front and rear. ‘She was handcuffed and her ankles were also cuffed and she was only allowed out to use the toilet. She believed she was going to be killed.’ Mr Brodie said Ellis was finally cornered when police spotted his van at a service station before he drove off. He told the court Mrs Ellis, of Blantyre, was receiving psychiatric counselling for the emotional and mental trauma caused by her ordeal. He added that Ellis had shot himself with the gun in Dixon Terrace, Whitburn, when he was finally cornered by armed police officers. The court was told the bullet went through his side and did not cause him any serious injury.
Yesterday Ellis admitted charges of abducting and threatening his wife with a revolver. Telling the 40-year-old he had acted ‘like an animal’ in putting his wife through a ‘horrifying and terrible’ ordeal, Lord Cameron jailed Ellis for a total of nine years. Ellis also admitted forcing a 13-year-old girl staying in his wife’s house at the time of the incident to take 50 anti-depressant and paracetamol tablets. The girl was later rushed to hospital after being discovered by neighbours, but made a full recovery. Lord Cameron told Ellis that he had acted in an egocentric manner and that he ‘could not have been unaware of the terror you inflicted on both your wife and the child.’ Mrs Ellis’s father, Denis, 63, who said his daughter was too upset to attend the hearing, said afterwards: ‘I am overjoyed that this animal has been caged at last. ‘He has given my daughter a life of hell and he just would not let go and kidnapped her and subjected her to days of terror when she believed that she was about to be shot and murdered by him.’
The court was also told Mrs Ellis had provided her husband with an alibi when he cleared in November 1994 of murdering spinster schoolteacher Mary McKinlay, 50, at her home in Glen Tower, Motherwell. Donald Findlay, defending, said that Ellis had been treated for clinical depression and had saved the tablets to commit suicide. Mr Findlay said that Ellis abducted his wife because he intended killing himself and wanted her to be at his side when he shot himself. After being cleared of murdering Miss McKinlay in l994, Ellis was forced out of his high-rise flat when frightened neighbours petitioned the council housing department. In jailing Ellis for nine years, the judge took into account further admissions of illegally possessing a gun and ammunition. He admitted having the gun and bullets and further charges of forcing Mrs Ellis to swallow tablets to the danger of her life. When he was sentenced, his wife’s sister shouted out in court: ‘Wonderful.’ 951386241 TERRORISED: WIFE SUSAN ELLIS GUN THREAT: HUSBAND WILLIAM ELLIS WAS JAILED FOR NINE YEARS