Family ask why police and Army didn't stop 'preventable' death of Alice Ruggles, who was murdered by ex who stalked her

Trimaan Dhillon was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years after being convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court.
Trimaan Dhillon was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years after being convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court.

The family of a young woman who was murdered by a jealous and obsessed soldier say the Army could have done more to protect her from her controlling ex-partner.

Alice Ruggles, 24, had contacted Northumbria Police about Trimaan Dhillon's stalking in the days before he broke into her home and repeatedly cut her throat.

Alice Ruggles had contactedNorthumbriaPolice about Trimaan Dhillon's stalking.

Alice Ruggles had contactedNorthumbriaPolice about Trimaan Dhillon's stalking.

A Northumbria Police officer contacted his barracks in Edinburgh and spoke to a superior, but not Military Police or Police Scotland, and Dhillon was then told to stop contacting her or face arrest.

But he ignored the warning from within the regiment, continued to contact her, and eventually drove 120 miles to Tyneside to murder the bubbly and popular Sky employee in October 2016.

Dhillon, a lance corporal who trained with the Special Reconnaissance Service, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Gateshead Community Safety Board conducted a domestic homicide review, and the findings, published today, make 20 recommendations for local authorities, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence to act upon.

Alice Ruggles was asked by Northumbria Police if she wanted Trimaan Dhillon arrested, and declined.

Alice Ruggles was asked by Northumbria Police if she wanted Trimaan Dhillon arrested, and declined.

In the review, Alice's parents Sue and Clive said: "We believe that her death was preventable.

"We find it difficult to comprehend that, although Alice described in her first phone call to the police that she was being stalked and provided ample evidence, the police and the Army were unable to support and protect her."

Miss Ruggles's sister Emma, herself a serving soldier, said she was "frustrated" by the Army's response to the murder.

She has had no contact from Dhillon's unit, no response to questions she posed to the Royal Military Police, nor a sense that lessons had been learned.

The 2 Scots soldier had a history of offending against ex-partners, and Emma Ruggles could not believe the Army was unaware, as he was serving at the time.

She said: "Similar situations need to be taken far more seriously in the future by both the police and the Army.

"Failure to do so would show a blatant lack of regard for my sister, the nightmare she lived in her last few months, and the sustained, painful, violent last few minutes of her life."

The review has recommended that it becomes an offence to threaten to release intimate photos of an ex-partner, as Dhillon had done once Ms Ruggles had called off their relationship.

In a second call to Northumbria Police, as Dhillon's stalking continued, a call handler asked Ms Ruggles if she wanted him to be arrested.

The review found the police should have made the decision, and it should not have been left to the victim, who declined.

Northumbria Police's Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon said changes have been made nationally regarding the response to stalking and harassment in the light of this horrific case.

She said: "With the help of Alice's family we are now leading the way in training officers in the best way to deal with these types of offences, with their input vital in developing a video which is now also used by other forces and partners.

"Their continued determination to change the law to better protect victims of stalking is commendable."