Date Of Execution: 10 Apr 1917
Crime Location: Bute Street, Cardiff
Execution Place: Cardiff
Executioner: John Ellis
Alex Bakerlis was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Winifred Ellen Fortt 19 and sentenced to death.
He stabbed her to death in Bute Street, Cardiff near St Mary's Church on 25 December 1916 as she was returning from a party. He stabbed her dozens of times and then ran off but was stopped by a policeman.
They had previously been engaged to be married but Winifred Fortt had broken off the engagement. Winifred Fortt was known as Nellie.
Alex Bakerlis had been a Greek sailor and had lodged at the boarding house of Winifred Fortt's father in Bute Street for three years and kept company with Winifred Fortt but around ten months before the murder Winifred Fortt's father forbid Alex Bakerlis from staying in the house as he had been causing trouble because of his jealousy of the other lodgers that spoke to Winifred Fortt.
However, Alex Bakerlis and Winifred Fortt continued to meet and it appeared that they had intended at one time to get married secretly.
However, they quarrelled in September 1916 and Winifred Fortt sent Alex Bakerlis, via a friend, a ring and letters but Alex Bakerlis refused to take them except from Winifred Fortt herself.
Alex Bakerlis was seen a few days later hanging about the door of the boarding house with a fully loaded automatic pistol asking for Winifred Fortt and saying, 'This is for her' and he was arrested and ordered to be fined £10 or to serve two months under the Aliens Restriction Order. The fine was paid by compatriots. However, evidence of that event was excluded by the judge at the trial by reason of the lapse of time although it was later noted in the police report to the Home office in consideration for the possible respite of his capital sentence.
On the evening of Christmas day 1916 Alex Bakerlis met Winifred Fortt and her friend that had previously tried to return his ring and letters in Bute Street and he asked her for his ring which her friend had been wearing. Her friend took it off and gave it to Winifred Fortt who then gave it to Alex Bakerlis. Alex Bakerlis then asked for his letters and Winifred Fortt said that she would fetch them but he then stabbed her multiple times about the head, neck and back with a carving knife.
Winifred Fortt's friend said that they had been coming over the bridge down Bute Street going towards Winifred Fortt's home when Alex Bakerlis came up to them and asked Winifred Fortt for the ring and letters. She said that she then gave her the ring and that Alex Bakerlis then asked Winifred Fortt to get the letters and that after she replied that she would that he struck her about the head and she fell face downwards. She said that she didn't now what he had struck her with at first, saying that she thought that it had been a stick but said that when he struck her a second time that she saw that it was a knife. She said that he then kept on striking her as she was on the ground, bending over her.
She said that she tried to pull him off her but that she was not strong enough and noted that as he was attacking her that Alex Bakerlis said nothing. She said that she then ran to her father's house and called her father who then came out and carried Winifred Fortt back to their home.
Alex Bakerlis then ran off but was stopped by a police constable outside the police station. He had been perfectly sober at the time and he had still had the knife in his hand at the time. The knife had belonged to the boarding house where he was staying at the time.
Winifred Fortt was taken to hospital but later died on 28 December 1916 from septic poisoning. She had been a virgin at the time of her death.
At the trial Alex Bakerlis's defence put forward the suggestion of 'impulsive insanity', but there was no evidence of insanity and it was said that it was clear that Alex Bakerlis had intended to attack Winifred Fortt when he armed himself with the carving knife. It was also heard that there was little doubt that he would have shot her in September 1916 with the revolver.
Alex Bakerlis later appealed his sentence stating that he had been drunk at the time and didn't know what he was doing, but the evidence was clear on the fact that he had been quite sober at the time and his appeal was dismissed.
see National Archives - HO 144/1474/331761
see Dundee Courier - Wednesday 03 January 1917
see Shields Daily News - Wednesday 07 March 1917