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Daughter of parents murdered by her brother calls for change over ‘silent 999 calls’

Martin Ruddy.
Martin Ruddy.

The way 999 calls are handled could be changed following the gruesome murder of a devoted couple by their son.

Tracy Emslie has started a petition to have the guidelines altered after her parents Eric and Carol Ruddy were killed by their cash-strapped son Martin at their home.

His mother had managed to dial 999 before he strangled her with a TV cable, but the call was seemingly silent and the BT operator, following the agreed procedures, did not pass on details to the police.

The call had been recorded and for the purposes of the trial, in which Ruddy was convicted of two counts of murder, the sound was enhanced. After it was processed a female voice could be heard saying “Please hurry up.”

Details of the shocking case have been passed on to MPs who will consider changing the rules on dealing with silent 999 calls.

Ms Emslie, writing on the change.org online petition site, said: “It should be a basic right as a human being that when a person dials 999 they receive help.

“Unfortunately this is not the case.

“On 12th December 2014 my parents were murdered in their home.

“It was later discovered that a 999 call was made from their home at 9.32pm.

“NO ONE RESPONDED. Emergency services finally arrived at approximately 10.20pm following a second 999 call from their address.

“The nearest police station was just two minutes away.

“BT have stated that they were simply acting in accordance with police guidelines.”

She added: “If you believe, like me and my family, that an urgent review of police policies and procedures in relation to how 999 calls are conducted is needed, then please share and sign this petition.”

A BT spokesman said: “I can confirm that a three-second 999 call was received by a BT operator.

“There were no signs of disturbance or distress and although a muffled, unclear voice can be briefly heard on the recording, what was said was unfortunately indistinguishable.

“Following the process agreed nationally with the police the operator remained on the line after the handset was replaced for a further 45 seconds before then ending the call as the handset had not been picked up again.

“The code of practice agreed with the police is that we do not connect such calls to them and our operator correctly followed this call handling process.

“Voice recordings of 999 calls can be enhanced for courtroom purposes to raise the levels of background above what could have been heard by our 999 operators at the time of call handling.

“This can be very useful for courtroom purposes, but is not an accurate reflection of what call operators would have heard at the point of taking the call.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture Media and Sport said the issue will be discussed in September.

She said: “The Public Emergency Call Service Code of Practice is owned by the 999/112 Liaison Committee, which is made up of representatives from the telecoms companies, emergency services and government.

“The committee is currently reviewing the code of practice and the circumstances of this sad case will of course be factored into those discussions, with a view to bringing proposals to the next meeting of the committee in September.”

The 29-year-old double killer was jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court last month.

He bludgeoned his father to death after asking him for cash from his savings. He killed his disabled mother too, despite her attempt to phone for help.

Ruddy staged a burglary and cut himself, then told neighbours they had been attacked by intruders.