1. ITV Report

Family of murdered Alice Ruggles believe Army 'could have done more' to protect her

  • Alice Ruggles was murdered by her soldier ex-boyfriend in Gateshead in 2016.
  • The 24-year-old had contacted Northumbria Police about Trimaan Dhillon's stalking in the days before her murder.
  • Her family say both the Police and the Army could have prevented her death.
Trimaan Dhillon (right) broke into Alice Ruggles' home and cut her throat Credit: Family photo/Northumbria Police

The family of a 24-year-old woman from Leicestershire who was murdered by her soldier ex-boyfriend said the Army could have done more to protect her.

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

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 her in October 2016.

Alice Ruggles had warned police about her ex-boyfriend's behaviour Credit: Family photo

Dhillon, a Lance Corporal at the time 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.

After the trial, Gateshead Council conducted a domestic homicide review (DHR) and the findings were published on March 19.

It has made 20 recommendations for local authorities, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence to act upon.

In the review, her parents Sue and Clive said they believed her death could have been prevented.

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."

– Statement by Alice Ruggles' parents
Trimaan Dhillon is serving a life sentence for murdering Alice Ruggles Credit: Northumbria Police

Miss Ruggles' 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 or a response to questions she posed to the Royal Military Police.

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

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

– Emma Ruggles, Alice's sister

Responding to the review and the recommendations it set out, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said it had taken steps to prevent domestic abuse.

We are committed to tackling domestic abuse and last year launched a strategy to help prevent domestic abuse in all its forms. This includes prevention of abuse in the home and providing support to the families of service personnel who may be affected.

– Brigadier Christopher Coles, Head of Army Services Personnel Group

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

Northumbria Police said changes have been made nationally regarding the response to stalking and harassment in the light of this case.