Fergie's killer aide and a terrified man who's become her latest obsession
23:52 GMT, 9 March 2012
At first glance, the home-made card looks like something a love-struck teenager might have knocked up for Valentine’s Day. On the front is a picture of two swimmers in wet-suits, their heads replaced with the stuck-on faces of a man and woman cut out from a photograph.
Beneath the image, the words ‘What a sexy pair!’ have been inscribed. Inside, the message reads: ‘I love you my darling Mark so very much! Thank you for being the most amazing partner in the whole wide world! Forever your Jane xxxxxx.’
But for Mark Ellson, the 39-year-old who received this card a month ago and whose face is one of those superimposed on the card, the feelings are not reciprocated. In fact, he hopes never to hear from the sender again.
Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, left, with her personal assistant Jane Andrews who was convicted of the murder of her boyfriend Tom Cressman in 2000
The reason is that the woman who sent the card is Jane Andrews, a convicted murderer. Dubbed the Fatal Attraction Killer, 44-year-old Andrews, who was once dresser to the Duchess of York, was jailed in 2001 for the murder of her boyfriend, Tommy Cressman.
Andrews battered him around the head with a cricket bat and then stabbed him through the heart after he refused to marry her.
Small wonder, then, that Mark is concerned that he now appears to be the focus of Jane Andrews’ affections.
Andrews wrote to him seven years ago while he was serving time for fraud in a different prison. She’d seen him mentioned in a prison newspaper after he won a quiz, and wrote saying she wanted someone to correspond with.
Worried: Mark Ellson, former pen friend of Jane Andrews who was convicted of murdering her lover Tom Cressman, is concerned he has now become the focus of her affections
After his release, he visited Andrews on numerous occasions. They got on well, but Mark insists that he had a girlfriend and never saw Andrews as anything more than a friend.
Clearly Andrews had other ideas, showering Mark with gifts and cards in which she started to refer to him as ‘my husband’ or ‘my fianc’.
Flirtatiously, she even took to dropping his name into the book reviews which she wrote for a monthly prison newspaper, ‘hiding’ it in a sentence.
In 2009, Mark’s failure to turn up for a pre-arranged visit led to Andrews absconding from prison for three days.
When police discovered what had triggered her disappearance, they were so concerned for Mark’s safety that they told his family to go into hiding, and placed a round-the-clock guard on his house while she was at large.
Details of this incident were exclusively revealed by the Daily Mail last summer.
Today, for the first time, Mark has agreed to be identified and to speak openly about his relationship with the killer. He’s chosen to do so because Andrews could be free within a matter of weeks.
As well as providing a fascinating insight into what she plans to do if she is released (Andrews recently sold her London flat for 450,000), Mark has cautionary words for the panel who will decide Andrews’ future at her parole hearing on March 27.
‘I think it is important people get to know the real Jane Andrews before she is released,’ he says. ‘She has latched onto me because I’ve shown an interest in her.
‘She then takes it too far and becomes obsessive. She is a difficult person to understand, but I have seen how erratic she can be. Others need to be aware of this, too.’
In an answering machine message Andrews left for Mark just over a year ago, her voice is full of emotion. She is demanding that Mark help her out after the prison authorities warned her to stop repeatedly calling him.
'My darling Mark': One of the many cards sent by Jane Andrews to Mark Ellson
Mark Ellson received this home-made card last month with a picture of two swimmers in wet-suits with their heads replaced with photograph cut outs of his and Jane's faces
Another home-made greetings card sent to Mark Ellson calling him her 'husband'
‘I am taking all this on my own shoulders,’ she complains. ‘You’ve f***** up my life, to be honest.’
Against the background of what we know about Andrews, her words are chilling.
In the early hours of September 17, 2000, she attacked her wealthy boyfriend, Tommy Cressman, in bed at their home in Fulham, West London. She then went on the run and was found, four days later, curled up under a blanket in her car, having taken an overdose.
In court, Andrews denied murdering 39-year-old Mr Cressman. Her lawyers argued that she was defending herself after the businessman had raped and threatened to kill her.
The jury did not believe her version of events, however, concluding instead that she had killed her lover in a jealous rage after he refused to marry her. They had heard that Andrews had a history of taking revenge on those who spurned her.
When a previous boyfriend, a Greek shipping magnate, Dmitri Horne, ended their relationship, she trashed his flat, and again subsequently took an overdose.
Mark, who spent seven years in the Royal Navy as a petty officer, says he had no idea who Andrews was when her first letter was delivered to him in Ford open prison in 2005. He had been sentenced to five years and nine months for a string of frauds, including obtaining money by deception from a bank.
At court: Jane Andrews arrives at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London, on April 23, 2001, charged with the murder of her lover Thomas Cressman
While in prison, he won a general knowledge quiz, and his name was published in the prison newspaper, Inside Time.
Mark says: ‘She must have read it, and wrote saying she wanted someone to write to. I just thought it was a pen-pal sort of thing, and I replied.
‘It was only after the second or third letter that she brought up that she used to work for the Duchess of York, and it dawned on me who she was.’
So why didn’t he back off then
‘She wrote long letters, she was intelligent, and she was eloquent,’ he says. ‘There was a hint of sadness in her letters, and I had been trained as a “listener” by The Samaritans to help people who seemed down. I didn’t see any harm in it.’
At the time, Mark was in a relationship with a woman with whom he has two sons, and maintains that at no stage did he see Andrews as anything more than a friend.
After corresponding with her by letter for six months, he went to see her at Send Prison, Surrey, on a day out from his own open prison, and from then visited her every month.
During these visits, talk inevitably turned to the crime she had committed. Andrews stuck to the line that it was she who was the victim.
‘She always insisted it was self-defence,’ says Mark. ‘She talked about how controlling Tommy was, how he had sexually abused her in any way he could and was constantly having affairs with people. She said he had attacked her. Being logical, I asked her: “If it was self-defence, why did you leave the scene Why did you run away” She said she couldn’t remember.’
They spent many hours discussing what she would do when she was released. ‘She said working for the Duchess of York had been demanding, organising flights and travelling,’ says Mark. ‘She said that, in future, she wouldn’t want the sort of hectic life she’d had before.
‘She said she wouldn’t mind running her own business and having a quieter life by the sea.’
In prison, Andrews dis several art courses and produced Christmas cards for a charity. One of these, sent to Mark, is of a snow-covered cottage with a sign saying ‘Home’ on the gate.
A printed ‘poem’ is inside: ‘Home is where my heart is. I long for home. This is my dream cottage, that one day I want to own, along with a little dog, a faithful friend always by my side.’
The former royal aide was found guilty at the Old Bailey in London by a jury of the murder of her lover Tommy Cressman
Living the high-life: Jane Andrews on holiday with friends before she was found guilty of murdering her boyfriend
When Mark was released from prison in late 2007, Andrews asked for his help on a number of projects. One of these centred on a London flat she had been renting out while she was in jail.
For the past decade, it had provided an annual income of about 18,000. It needed some maintenance work, and Mark got quotes from builders.
He also agreed to liaise with estate agents ahead of it going on the market in April last year.
The flat sold for 450,000. Andrews is understood to have had only a small mortgage on the property, and may have made up to 350,000 from the sale.
Mark was also asked to help arrange storage for Andrews’ personal belongings, which had previously been kept for her by a friend with whom she’d fallen out.
As well as clothing, they included items she had gathered during almost a decade working for Sarah Ferguson. Among them were Mulberry bags and luggage, Chanel pumps, silk scarves and Brora and N.Peal cashmere jumpers, some of them gifts from the Princess of Wales.
Pictures painted and signed by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and given as presents to Andrews were also in storage.
When Mark Ellson failed to turn up for a pre-arranged visit in 2009, Andrews absconded from prison for three days
One of Mark’s other tasks was to take delivery of the items belonging to Jane which had been seized by police during the investigation into Mr Cressman’s murder.
These were delivered to him by the Metropolitan Police and included the contents of Andrews’ handbag, her Filofax, and photographs of her and Mr Cressman on a holiday in Italy only days before she killed him.
Mark says he was happy to help. He admits that Andrews was ‘flirtatious’ at their meetings. And in exchange for his help, he was rewarded with presents which Andrews had sent to him via friends on the outside.
On one birthday, there was a 100 watch. There were also jumpers and T-shirts from Gap.
But, as the years passed, Mark became increasingly uneasy as the tone of the letters and cards from Andrews changed.
Inside them, she included romantic poems and messages declaring her undying love for him.
‘My darling gorgeous Mark,’ she wrote on November 28, 2008. ‘I love you so much, forever your Jane xxx’
Another, dated March 2, 2009, has the word ‘Devoted’ emblazoned across the front, and the words ‘I Love You Forever’ written inside.
A third shows two teddy bears holding a love heart, above which is written the dedication ‘To My Special Husband’.
Mark says: ‘I avoided mentioning it when I met her. She is fragile, and I didn’t want to rock the boat.’
Matters came to a head, however, in November 2009, by which time Andrews had been moved to an open prison in Kent, called East Sutton Park.
One Sunday, Mark was due to visit her, but couldn’t make their meeting because of transport problems. He called the prison authorities to cancel. That night, Andrews went on the run, and a huge manhunt ensued. ‘The first I knew about it was on the Monday afternoon when two policemen came and said they believed I knew Jane Andrews,’ he says.
‘They said if she got in touch, I was to let them know.
‘That evening, three police cars came for me and I was taken to the station and questioned for two hours. They were trying to ascertain whether I had had anything to do with her disappearance.’
Later that night, when Mark was back at home, the police returned to request that he and his family leave the property for their own safety.
Mark refused to leave, so panic alarms were installed at his house and a police car stationed at the end of the road.
Andrews told Mark Ellson that working as an aide to the Duchess of York was demanding
He says: ‘It seems the prison had said that the reason she’d gone was because I’d cancelled the visit. They must have thought there was some sort of threat, so I was very concerned. Eventually, Andrews was tracked down to a hotel in Kent a few miles from the prison. Despite her having spent two days on the run, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge her.
As a result, no extra time was added to her sentence and she has since been returned to the open prison at East Sutton.
From then on, Mark refused to visit her, though they did speak on the telephone. He asked her why she had absconded. ‘She told me she couldn’t remember,’ he says. ‘She said she was upset.’
With cards continuing to arrive addressed to ‘My Husband’, Mark decided to sever all contact with Andrews in early 2011. He told her not to call him any more, prompting Andrews to leave that angry message on his answering machine.
For the best part of a year he heard nothing from her — then, recently, three letters arrived in quick succession. They were forwarded by Royal Mail to Mark’s new address.
One, dated January 22, 2012, begins: ‘To my darling “husband” to be’. It continues: ‘My Darling Mark, just to let you know that I was thinking of you and I miss you so much. And even though we are apart, we are still together in my heart. It is only a matter of time until we are together. I love you so much. Your Jane xxx.’
Mark says: ‘I don’t know whether she has started writing because she thinks she could be out soon. I just don’t know.’
On the subject of her parole, Mark, who is now in a new relationship, is surprised that no one connected with the hearing has asked for his thoughts, particularly given his pivotal role in her absconding.
‘If she gets into a relationship, she seems to have these adverse reactions,’ he says. ‘It is very extreme. I don’t know what is going on in her head.’